‘Breaking Bad’ Ratings Down in Season 5; Is Netflix To Blame?

Published 3 years ago by , Updated August 8th, 2012 at 9:51 am,

breaking bad season 5 king Breaking Bad Ratings Down in Season 5; Is Netflix To Blame?

The final chapter of Walter White may have found the Breaking Bad season 5 premiere breaking ratings records for the series, but it appears that trend may be on the decline, as the second episode of the season saw ratings drop by 21%.

Premiering to 2.9 million viewers, AMC announced that the ratings for the Breaking Bad season 5 premiere were up overall: “a 14 percent increase in viewers compared to last season’s premiere, including an increase of 34 percent in the coveted 18-49 demographic.” However, following the second episode airing, the ratings had dropped by 21%, down to 2.3 million viewers.

With Breaking Bad being appropriately touted as one of the best television series ever, audiences – even those who are unfamiliar with the series – will likely be compelled to tune in, if only to see what everyone is talking about. Combine that with the fact that premieres always show an exponential increase in ratings and the ratings drop starts to make sense.

That being said, once you throw the Netflix factor into it, an interesting notion presents itself. Like many great series on the air today, Netflix has become a way for audiences to catch up on, rewatch, or be introduced to Breaking Bad. Unlike most series, Breaking Bad has its entire catalog available to Netflix’s millions of subscribers (season 1-4).

Essentially turning what is typically a 4 month seasonal viewing experience into a weekend of watching, audiences can become too familiar with the ability to immediately watch the next episode – and the next – until you’re completely caught up. Attempting to feed the desire for more Walter White in one’s daily viewing schedule, audiences rightfully turn to live viewing.

While live viewing directly leads to the success of any series (and typically its continuation), it also means that there’s a week’s wait in-between. For many series, the week’s wait is often supplemented by cliff hangers and/or planned storytelling that lends itself for that type of broadcasting. Breaking Bad, however, is not like most series – in many ways.

breaking bad season 5 Breaking Bad Ratings Down in Season 5; Is Netflix To Blame?

Often mirroring the same subtle journey that Walter White is on, Breaking Bad’s dense, intense character-driven narrative can make live viewing a strain on some viewers – especially for those who are intensely invested in the story. Since a weekly viewing of Breaking Bad brings with it 7 days of anticipatory waiting, the always suspense-filled episodic installments of Breaking Bad may dissuade viewers from watching the show in this way, especially after experiencing it through Netflix instant streaming.

On top of that, Breaking Bad’s final season is actually airing over 2 years, which converts its typically 4 month, 13 episode season into a 2 month, 8 episode per year programming run-around. Having to wait an entire year to even begin Walter White’s truly final chapter, some of the audience might simply wait to completely delve into the beautifully chaotic world of Breaking Bad.

Of course, even if Breaking Bad’s ratings do continue to decline (which is likely, if only slightly), Vince Gilligan’s television opus has already secured his final chapter’s place in the programming lineup. So whether or not you’re a weekly viewer of Breaking Bad, take solace in the knowledge that the tale will be concluded the way that Gilligan has always planned.

And for any fan of television, there’s nothing greater than being able to witness a creator bring his or her story to its appropriate end.

Breaking Bad airs Sundays @10pm on AMC

Follow Anthony on Twitter @anthonyocasio

Source: Entertainment Weekly

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  1. Pretty sure it has to do with the Viacom thing. Alot of people can’t watch the show legally now.

    • I don’t think AMC is part of Viacom, so I don’t think that’s a factor.

      • You’re right, but it WAS dropped by DISH. AMC streamed the first episode online for free but afterward they did not have any other means to watch the show.

        • AMC has no one to blame but itself. It is making unrealistic demands on DISH based on the fact that it has, what, 5 very popular shows. If companies like DISH did not stand up to these demands, we would all be paying astronomical prices. I’m glad there is a noticeable dip, maybe now AMC will realize that it needs DISH more than DISH needs it.

          • You sound like a Dish employee. Tell me, what was the unrealistic demand?

            • lol

            • it was probably making DISH pay too much when they try to offer discount television to their employees. Just like the credit card fees, cable channels have gotten crazy with what they charge.

    • ummmmmm 1.89 a week on amazon video per episode breaking bad, pretty accessible, lots less than a cable bill in my opinion
      I thik the season is not as entertaining as the previous 4 and the shooting of a ten year old certainly did not make me look forward to another episode, I was a dedicated fan up to that moment, now I may quit watching, Walter is coming across to me as a greedy selfish dick, and I didnt see that before

  2. i would be watching it but dish network gave AMC the finger…so i get screwed.

    • You can buy the new episodes on the following Monday from release for $1.99 per episode at Amazon.

  3. Breaking bad rocks hard. The ratings measure stick must be broken cuz breaking bad broke it bad.

  4. I disagree. I seriously doubt someone would watch seasons 1-4 and be dissuaded from watching the current season because they have to wait. Putting that much time into a show, viewers are going to stick it out. I agree with Raul, the Viacom thing is probably the factor most affecting the dip in ratings. In most instances, Netflix should increase ratings by allowing new viewers to catch up with the current season.

    • Agree. I recently started watching Breaking Bad from episode 1 to the end of season 4 on Netflix. I will absolutely watch the rest of season 5 weekly on AMC.
      Just trying to figure out how I catch up on the first 5 episodes of season 5, though.

      • I’m in the same boat as you, as I just finished season 4. Episodes 2-5 of season 5 are available on-demand with xfinity, but not episode 1!! I’m killing myself over trying to find a place to watch it, not wanting to succumb to watching it in grainy low-def quality online, probably illegally.

      • google play or amazon instant video has the first 4 episodes,

      • Amazon instant view.

      • Grab utorrent and search thepiratebay. You can safely download all episodes that way.

  5. I beleve it has everything to do with AMC no longer being carried on DISH…….stupid stupid DISH….

  6. Dish and AMC both to blame. If AMC allowed Netflix to post the prior season earlier than a few days before the next season starts, many more people would tune in. And splitting the final season over 2 years is nonsense. I for one decided when I saw that to wait a couple years and watch it all at once. Much better experience that way.

    • ^This is exactly why I’m not tuning in every week.. Netflix only just got Season 4 up! what the deuce.. still catching up

  7. Dish dropped amc and many other channels. I’m sure that plays a big part of it. I thankfully have at@t.

    • Dish dropped AMC before Breaking Bad season 5 premiered.

      • AMC streamed the first episode online free for Dish users. Afterward it played a message about how Dish dropped AMC so you should drop Dish.

        • Streaming viewership likely isn’t counted in the initial numbers though. So I don’t think that would account for the drop off either.

      • The premiere was also streamed online and dish customers had to log in.
        So i’m assuming those were counted in the tally for the premiere’s views.

        the second episode did not have a streaming option for dish customers….

  8. Also, splitting the finale season in 2 years? Ridicules

  9. The only problem with it being because of Viacom is, AMC was dropped before this season’s first episode was aired.

    I believe the problem stems from the fact that networks CONTINUE to rely an an outdated and minuscule percentage of the TV watching population. There are approx. 114.5 million TV watchers in the US and Nielsen only monitors 25k households. So a mere .02% of the population is controlling the destiny of network TV programming.

    To bring it back home, that means to get 2.9 million viewers, only 633 households had to tune in and to get a 21% drop only 133 less households had to not watch last week. That is an insanely small number and could be attributed to anything.

    Add to that the increasing number of people who TiVo or otherwise record for later watching and you get some seriously out of whack statistics.

  10. By this article, I’m guessing Netflix is to blame because it facilitates catching up on a show people might be behind on? I realize Netflix has been the dog people enjoy kicking over the past few years, but that’s a pretty big leap to blame them for a show’s declining ratings.

  11. did these geniuses take into account the 14.1 million people that no longer have access to the channel via Dish Network?? the only reason the first week was still high was because AMC allowed Dish customers to stream the first episode.

    • people streaming would not be counted in the ratings 😉

      • they do if their home contains a monitor, and with streaming they have a more accurate number because you are logged when streaming. 😉 back at ya smartass

        • Sorry but not really. They will definitely have a counter on it for tracking purposes but considering how the Nielsen ratings work and reported, the two don’t mix very well.

          Now if you can show me proof that they are indeed counting streaming hits, then I will believe you but until that time I don’t.

          Also you should avoid personal attacks :)

            • Dude, you really need to check your ego at the door.

              Interestingly, you are possibly correct but not because of the reasons you think. I know all about the Nielsen ratings and how they work but I really don’t think you do. Yes there are a tiny number of households that do monitor multiple platforms (about 10k) BUT they do not monitor pure streaming content. So Netflix, Hulu, and other similar sites don’t count. Why? Because the people in charge and those who are interested in those numbers care more about the commercials. They use those Nielsen Ratings to determine how much to charge for commercial spots (you know, the things that keep the network stations in business)

              So when I heard that AMC was streaming the season opener I naturally thought this would not be counted…..BUT……what I did not know it was a live stream (I luckily am not a Dish customer so I watched it normally). So why is a live stream important? Because those Nielsen multi-platform wired houses will monitor and count streaming content as long as it shows the EXACT same commercials that the original show had, otherwise the two sets of numbers cannot be mixed. So if it was a live stream, it is possible they did just that. As I said, I didn’t watch it online so I have no clue if that was the case but it would be nice to know if they streamed it complete with commercials intact.

              So the next time you think throwing up a link is all you need to do to prove yourself right, I would suggest digging a bit deeper 😉

              • This is all very interesting to me. My wife and I were chosen to participate in a Nielson rating and it was all keeping track of what we watched, strictly on TV, on paper. I always wondered if there was a way of monitoring DVRs, streaming, and other outlets since that is what we mainly use. To not track all of that is not really fair to the show, but it makes total sense since they want to see how many times the commercials were viewed.

              • Ego? what has ego got to do with anything?

                You asked for proof and I gave it to you. Just accept the fact you were wrong and move on with your life its that simple.
                The issue here was that you stated streaming is not counted via Nielsen when I said that it was and it clearly is FACT! They also do count streaming via Hulu, Netflix, HBO and FOX and many more services although only shows currently airing are counted, it doesn’t matter how many homes are counted the fact remains they are counted and its 13000 homes that currently employ the cross platform system with another 13000 units being issued by 2015.

                Nielsen had to create this new way of keeping track because so many people now access shows via hand held devices, Smartphones, iPads and Laptops.

                Your information may have been correct at some stage but you have to take into account that things change to suit the times you either advance with technology or get left behind.

                as for the link, the information is there for the taking I researched this Thoroughly and suggest you do the same or don’t and continue to be blissfully ignorant, your choice and kindly stick that winky face up your poop shoot you condescending jerk.

                • This comment stream is Breaking Bad.

                  • I thought so too LMAO

                  • look dude!
                    I could care less what that article says its not published by Nielsen so not sure why its relevant,thats like asking me to take rocket building advice from a car mechanic.
                    Im pretty sure that the company that actually compiles the ratings data knows what they are talking about, The link I posted was just to the video page there is a whole website of useful info for you Mr Know It All!

                    As for the so called personal attacks, How old are you seriously, just don’t start crying whatever you do and my attitude was fine right up until the condescending tone and cocky wink. Im not a child so don’t assume you can speak to me like one!
                    The fact remains You were incorrect with your initial statement regarding streaming not being counted by Nielsen, you got on your high horse telling me to prove it like some spoiled child so that is what I did but low and behold you still want to argue about it and say its incorrect!!!
                    I care less how many homes are counted nor for what purpose you were wrong and that’s the end of it, deal with it and stop being a girl you big baby.

                    Now get yourself a life and move on for the love of god you are boring me.

                    • Typical. You think you are right regardless of the actual facts.

                      And you never rely on the company in question to give you the correct information. They are not an impartial party. Nielsen’s website is filled with nothing but double-talk and PR mumbo jumbo that sounds very “official” but means very little. Any figures they give you are either trivial knowledge or too generalized to be used meaningfully. (and yes, I went through their entire site)

                      So no, the link I provided is more like reading Consumer Reports to find out if that Sony TV is worth buying instead of reading about how great Sony says it is on their website.

                      I already told you I was POSSIBLY incorrect (I still don’t know for 100% sure) but it had nothing to do with the information you provided. In fact, if the content hadn’t been live I would have been right but you didn’t know about that simple fact until I told you about it.

                      but…..whatever. It isn’t about being wrong or right. The discussion/debate is what’s important to me. I posted a simple fyi and you escalated it into some personal war. I can admit when I’m wrong and have no ego to bruise unlike you.

                      And personal attacks have nothing to do with my age but in following the simple rules of the website and the belief in being civil to one another (something you can’t seem to do). I like this site and don’t want to have my IP address blocked and I mentioned it to you for the same reason. I also don’t report people so you are lucky this is an old thread the Mods are most likely not going to read.

                      I do find it interesting however that you are implying I’m childish but yet I have not once insulted or attacked you. :)

                    • @mongoose blah blah blah, I already told you that you bore me so not really sure why you would want to persist.
                      You obviously have a hard time understanding plain English so hope you get that dealt with.

                      This has nothing to do with my ego its a simple case of you condescend and patronize in nearly every sentence and then complain that I am personally attacking you!
                      You cant speak to people with a smartass attitude then expect nothing in return, just because you(oh so cleverly) disguised your attitude problem with the use of condescension doesn’t make you clever! and doing so in its self is a form of personal attack so those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
                      Now shoo fly don’t bother me! (AGAIN)

                    • Damo you lost! Maybe next time you will think twice before attacking people on the internet! Good job Mongoose!

                    • @Johnny Justice

                      who kicked your kennel?

                      you obviously didnt read the entire thread so rather keep quiet muppet! Plus, this has been over and done with for weeks now, not exactly Mr Current affairs now are we????
                      If Mongoose needs a cheerleader in the future I will be sure to put your name forward though.
                      bye bye now!

                    • Wow Damo. You certainly are an idgit. I know I shouldn’t do personal attacks, but some people deserve it. I should have unsubscribed from this thread long ago because I was getting sick of your Nielsen rating rhetoric and your cocky attitude. But that last attack on Johnny Justice was uncalled for. I apologize to everyone else who is still subscribed to this thread who happens to read this and for Damo’s ridiculous retort which will most likely be following up this post.

        • @Damo – You started this mess by calling mongoose a “smartass” and continued by telling people to shove things up their “poop shoots” and acting like an all-around jerk.

          I’m ending it. Feel free to talk and debate points and counterpoints but do it in a civil manner. if you can’t than I kindly ask you to move along.

          Paul Young – Moderator

          • @Damo – Actually, after reading your last post I’ve changed my mind. Please find your movie news elsewhere.

            Paul Young – Moderator

    • which that alone is 400,000 less viewers after dish dropped AMC. So really there was only a drop of 2.9 mil to 2.5 mil because of the drop of dish, so only 200,000 people missed the second episode not related to dish. INSTEAD of a 21% viewer drop rate we get a 7-7.5% drop rate! Much much less….

  12. I think Netflix may enter into it…but not in the way people think. I watched the first three seasons earlier this year on Netflix…but had to wait till AMC began re-running season 4 to see it there,since up until a few weeks ago, season 4 was not on Netflix. Now that it is there, people may be playing catch up, before tuning in to see what is currently going on. I predict ratings will go up when people are caught up on season 4.

  13. I think anyone who is a fan of Breaking Bad and gets AMC would want to watch it live, as the show airs. Breaking Bad is a story that has so many twists and turns and preventing spoilers for episodes that have already aired is pretty hard. Unlike some shows , etting spoilers for Breaking Bad wouldn’t completely ruin the show, but it would ruin some of the fun of watching the show. Usually Netflix doesn’t get the seasons until well after the season has finished. Season 4 for example was just released to Netflix a few weeks before Season 5 premiered. If someone can hold off and wait for Netflix then power to them, but chances are they’re going to find out what happens in the show before they see it. I think the DISH issue was a bigger thing than the show being on Netflix. If anything Netflix could help gain new fans, since people could watch the first four seasons in its entirety. I’ve heard some people say they found the S5 opener slow, and so maybe some decided to drop the show. Just my opinion but that seems a little silly, since the season just started and we have no idea what’s going to happen.

    Splitting the final season may seem like a poor decision to some, but I think it’s great. I’d rather wait for 8 more episodes that live up to the quality Breaking Bad has shown so far, then get 16 episodes back to back of poorer quality. Some things are worth the wait, and I think this split season will be worth it.

    • I thought the season 5 opener was one of the best single shows of any series I’ve seen in a long time. Walter getting his power trip on was great.

      I did not start watching breaking bad until season 3. Since I don’t usually watch live TV, I got no spoilers, so it made no difference. I can see how picking up right at that spot would be weird, you wouldn’t have a clue what was happening.

      I don’t think those who catch up are missing much. The more who enjoy this great show the better. Then, there might be more viewers for the Saul spinoff.

  14. I caught up with seaon 4 after watching 1-3 on Netflix, had to buy it on Amazon instant video cause I couldn’t stand not being able to watch it. It’s as addicting as the drugs they sell. Anyways, point being, every week we can’t eait for the next episode, and being so use to being able to watch episode after episode I’m tempted to wait till it’s up on Netflix. But that’s never gonna happen lol, love thr show eay to much to wait that long.

  15. I’m sure it couldn’t possibly have to do that the season premiere was in the middle of the summer. That us when all the heavy hitting shows premiere, right?!

  16. This article is not incorrect or wrong, but the fact is that the most recent episode of BB is still the show’s third highest rated episode to date in total viewers. The S4 premiere is the second highest and this season’s premiere is at the top.

    1.55m – 1.98m was the range set last season after the premiere episode, so there was a hefty dip there as well.

    The post premiere drop-off this season is typical and not indicative of any issue, problem, or underlining cause.

    2.93m S05E01
    2.58m S04E01
    2.29m S05E02

    • What are Cable and Satellite companies supposed to do when their providers keep on wanting to increase their prices? Dish already took $25 million/Month hit by not increasing their package prices in the last 1.5 years. They can’t keep on not increasing their prices when their providers are constantly increasing their prices on them. AMC wanted nearly $1 more per customer per month from Dish, may not sound like much, but when you add in all the increases from all the other providers it adds up real quick.

      Plus would like to mention, that I do work for Dish as an installer, working in people’s home 4 days a week. Wanna know how many times I have been asked or had comments about AMC from customers? ZERO. Talking to my other co-Workers, most of them never had any comment or questions from customers about AMC. A few of my co-workers got 1 comment/question. Everyone who has their reciever connected to a phone/internet line are being tracked anonymously of what is being watched (there is no identifying information being transmitted about the customer, Dish only get number of receivers tuned to what channels and at what times and for what shows) and that information showed that most of the customer who do watch AMC watch it for the movies, and not for their series. Dish determined that the potential loss in customers due to losing AMC because of the series is les then the potential loss in losing customers because they had to increase prices.

  17. I talk to people everyday that dropped Dish because of loseing AMC and dropped Direct tv because of the viacom b.s. but also alot of people who are ditching cable because of the expense. They are willing to wait and stream their favorite shows just to save some money.The cable and satellite providers better come to the conclusion that the public no longer needs them and the constant increase in price every year is way out of line. AMC is making a huge mistake by dragging out this final season and should just let us see all the episodes in a row and not make the people that made the show popular wait so AMC can attach another stinker show like ”Security” or ”comic book men” into rotation as a hanger on tie in. They shouldnt try to be FX with their 2 year series finales.

    • I dropped from a large cable package to only local channels and HBO (mainly to keep access to HBO GO… will probably even drop that soon).

      I stream Netflix, HBO, and my Amazon Video Library through my Xbox and Roku (Hulu has nothing I want). I pay for TV a la carte now. I buy Breaking Bad and Justified through Amazon, and I am saving a ton of money. I don’t have to deal with commercials, and the nicest thing is that my TV is on less.

      I, like many people, used to just turn my TV on and surf or leave it on something I was vaguely interested in watching in the background. My couch misses me, but I have actually become a more productive person through ditching the cable box.

      • Did the same thing this year. I pay $16 a month for Netflix/Hulu and get most of the shows I’d care to see. Only ones missing are the CBS shows and I can watch most of those on their website. Beats the hell out of $65+ I was paying for a bunch of channels I never watched. I really think if the cable/satellite companies want to keep their control, they’ll have to go to an al a carte system where the customer can create their own packages of channels they want.

        • Good luck on having the ala carte system work when the providers like AMC, Viacom, Fox, ect won’t let the satalite/cable companies have their channels in an ala carte system. Take AMC for as an example, if Dish wanted to have AMC, they also have to pay for IFC and WE channel, and AMC will not let Dish or anybody else to have AMC alone, it is all or nothing deal, plus not to mention they have to put it in a certain package for the customer. It is not the Cable/Satellite companies that you need to be looking at, it is the content providers themselves that are the root of the problem.

  18. I think it’s a combo of Netflix, Amazon, OnDemand, VuDu and DVR.
    Also Breaking Bad is a show you have to watch from the pilot on… If you watched the premire because of all the hype and it’s your 1st time watching you would have been totally lost.
    No matter what the numbers I think it’s a crime that so few people watch this show.
    I’ve seen every episode already but I still watch the 1st few seasons on Netflix when I have the time. It’s just that great…

  19. this is interesting because I was just talking to my friends about if they were going to wait for the whole season to come out or watch it as it comes, I have been watching it because I can’t wait for months to see what happens.

  20. Must admit I am one of those people who wait on basically EVERYTHING until it comes out on Netflix (films being the exception). I don’t even own a TV anymore. I truly hate Netfix’s on-demand movie selection, but it has a few decent TV shows, BB being the best one. However, I didn’t know season 4 was finally put up on Netflix. So see ya guys, I’ll be spending the weekend catching up on Walt and Pinkman!

  21. Could it have something to do with the premiere of the dark knight rises?

  22. I am currently watching it on Netflix for the first time. I’ve been watching it with vigor to catch up so I can watch it live. I did the same thing with Eureka. Netflix gives these shows life that otherwise wouldn’t be there. I heard about both these shows after their first seasons aired, but I’m not about to spend $30 to buy a season of a show I may or may not enjoy…and I’m not going to start something without seeing the first act, so Netflix and Hulu are ways for shows like these to find new audiences and build their fan-base.

    • and by watch it live, I mean buying episodes from Amazon Instant Watch since I haven’t had cable since January…which mean these shows make even more money because I’m willing to pay per episode now that I’ve invested into these stories. It’s Walt 101, get ’em hooked and then jack the price.

      • watchseries.eu is where you can see most any tv series you desire.

  23. Would you like to know the drop in viewers from the first to second episode in Season Four?

    It was 23%.

    Would you like to know the drop in viewers from the first to second episode in Season Three?

    It was 20.5%.

    Knowledge is power.

    • Should’ve looked at the last post before I posted mine, but exactly. This “ratings decrease” is not a decrease at all. Silly article about nothing.

  24. Don’t know if it’s been brought up but every season premiere since season 3 (I couldn’t find #’s for season 1 or episode 2 of season 2) has declined 20+% from ep 1 to ep 2 so this is right in range. Not unusual at all. Last season leveled off at around 1.6-1.9 for most episodes and all 3 eps this season have been well over 2.0, so I don’t really think this is showing a decrease in ratings at all.

  25. After watching the 5th episode last night via amazon (i don’t have cable) maybe it’s down a bit because this season just is not as compelling. It’s definitely feeling drawn out and without the dynamic of some of the interesting characters they’ve had in the past, it’s a little boring and predictable. Last nights episode had two instances of absurdly lucky breaks involving a train and something that happened in Hanks office.

  26. The best T.V has to offer, I’m addicted to Breaking Bad.

  27. @sandraW,
    People really will complain about anything! “Dead Freight” was the best piece of TV to air since the season 4 finale. What was predictable about that episode besides the child getting killed?

  28. Hey folks – You can purchase the Season 5 episodes (including #1) at Amazon for $1.99 each. They air on Sunday, and are available the following day on Amazon. Loving it. Thanks, Amazon!!!

  29. I think…it’s a little bit of a wrong thing to say the whole problem is Netflix but I agree they are a big problem towards the declining ratings but..maybe to though the creators idea of showing the series in the summer might be a small part of the declined ratting,unlikely but possible, But getting back to Netflix I think it is a big problem too though because like the article said why should we wait a week for an episode when we can wait till the season is over and watch the whole season on Netflix. Personally speaking though I think that Netflix is a bit of a rip-off and really has ruined the whole home viewing feel now that it’s so..accessible to be able to get films and TV shows it’s pointless to even own DVD’s and blu-rays.