‘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. …Or it might be that the writing was not up to par and the plots seemed more suited to MacGyver!! Old characters began behaving out of character (Mike) and new characters seemed undeveloped. Not enough Saul!

    I wondered how they would avoid a letdown after offing Gus at the end of season 4 and in my opinion they weren’t able to.

    Maybe they can turn it around next Summer…

    • A good take on things, though I have yet to watch season 5. After the S4 finale w/ Gus, I’m kind of wondering how they keep the show at that level.

      • The show certainly did not let down. Season 5 was incredible…so far.

      • season 5 is my favorite season

    • I think you are pretty much in the minority there buddy

    • I did the same! Watched it in a week on Netflix and now I’m HOOKED.. Everyone was AWESOME!!! Even bought the Liquid Metal Jewelry cuff bracelets that Skyler started wearing in the 3rd season.. (is it just me or did she start looking like another person? She musta got some “work” done) I think they (the writers) did an awesome job of keeping her in the dark as long as they did.. And I’m even more impressed with how hardcore corrupt she became.. I did NOT see that coming! Sorry, SPOILER ALERT A-HOLES!

  2. Great show! I think Netflix might have had a little bit to do with ratings going down but not much, I would leave that to one of the biggest satellite TV providers dropping amc. And I honestly I feel like if its being watched on Netflix it should go toward some kind of ratings.

  3. I have to say you’ve gotten this 100% right. I’d never even heard of Breaking Bad and then it was recommended to me as a netflix option a few months ago. So after Season 1 I was hooked. Spent whole weekends watching each season. And now I’m unable to sit and wait an entire week in suspense for each episode to air. Since Season 5 is likely to not appear on Netflix anytime soon. I may be ordering the season off Google Play. Maybe that’s how I’ll spend New Year’s!!! And Yes as someone stated online viewing should be associated with ratings (if viewed within a determined period of time). Realistically – I’m sure the majority of viewing will be via streaming content over the next few years.

  4. yeah this is bunk because season 5 is not on the netflix and that is why the ratings are goin down u punk

    • Having more viewers on netflix doesn’t result in higher ratings for AMC. Ratings are the amount of people that tune into the actual television station that the show airs on, not how many people watch the show in any particular venue.

      • I am myself halfway through season 4 on Netflix, and would hope to see season 5A there before season 5B starts on AMC.

        If AMC wants me as a live viewer, they need to get those episodes on there a couple weeks before the new ones start and then I’m there.

        I got up to speed on Walking Dead the same way. Seasons 1-2 on Netflix, I caught up during the season 3 hiatus…they put those first episodes On Demand right before the second half started…I was golden and looking forward to the new season this fall.

        Give me the flexibility and they will gain a customer…

  5. I don’t think your idea has any merit. The episodes that are on netflix are long over. If anything, they create a bigger fan base. I know no one who watched Breaking Bad as the show unfolded, but that was because they don’t get AMC. I don’t get AMC. There are tons of people that dont pay the outragous dish or cable rates where I live. We watch TV on the web and Netflix only.

    Once I heard of the show in second season, I went back and watched from the beginning . AMC makes me angry, because unlike some other networks who will run the most recent episode of a show for say, one week, about a week after air date. AMC doesn’t.

    It’s like music download music industry getting a clue. The TV industry better realiz that there are lots of people that will not shell out $100 a month to have 200 channels of garbage, with a handful of good programs.
    They need to let viewer see content through the web, or we will just watch something else.

    As far a breaking bad, it is so darn long between seasons I lost interest. That’s something you need to consider.

    • you cant wait 9 months between seasons of a show?

  6. This show is addicting, I’ve been watching this on Netflix. Amazing storyline. I never would have thought skyler would play a factor in Walter double life. And hank can be so annoying, I don’t want him to bust everyone. But I guess someone has to do the dirty work and take everyone down.

    • IMHO, I’d like to see Walter off Hank for finding out… Something that would just show how far he’s willing to go.

  7. There is nothing wrong with this show and the impact of Netflix and binge viewing cannot be underestimated. This is in imo the best TV SHOW OF ALLTIME !!!

  8. It this was advertised better, I cannot imagine what would happen. We heard about it before Christmas, so we bought season one, now we are on season four and on the edge of our seats. We hate drugs, but somehow are rooting for Walt, not happy with Skylar right now, and poor Hank couldn’t catch a criminal if it hit him in the face, but we love them all, and have to tear ourselves away every Saturday night! We will be sad to see the series end, but we have a few more episodes to go! Awesome show! Awards are well deserved for this show!

  9. No doubt netflix is the cause. I’m waiting for season 5 on netflix so I can watch them in order at my leisure.

  10. DISH dropping AMC during the season 5 showings were a real pain in the ass. I haven’t even watched yet.

  11. My son told me that Breaking Bad was on Netflix. I was vaguely familiar the series but decided to take a shot and try it….. I watched all 46 episodes in a week and now addicted.. AMC should have a marathon some week to introduce millions of potential fans what they are missing. People really do not know that there is actually great entertainment on AMC. I didn’t….I had always watched HBO and Showtime. Breaking Bad in my opinion on the same superior playing field as a Dexter or The Soprano’s…..

  12. I agree. I am guilty of using Netflix to catch up and I refuse to watch any of Season 5 until I finish! Sorry Breaking Bad. I am surprised that the same thing didn’t happen to Walking Dead. I did the same exact thing!

  13. I think the first challenge is that the series COULD have ended after the final episode of season four. I was shaking for two days after finishing season 4, so I am a little tentative about season 5 — it may be a little anticlimactic.

    Second, it is much better to watch these shows rapid fire. I hated waiting for the sopranos and have really enjoyed intensity of watching Breaking Bad over the course of a couple weeks.

    Finally, it’s possible that people are actually cutting or trimming their cable. I wouldn’t pay for cable just to watch Breaking Bad.

  14. The best

  15. I have netflix, and I don’t have the money to get cable.. and I love breaking bad.. wish the fifth season would come out already!

    • Agreed. No cable either.

  16. After hearing so much about the show since 2008, last fall I started watching it on DVD and found myself behaving almost like a crack addict….I mean, it was totally off the chain; best TV for me since, easily, “Miami Vice.” Just superbly written stories and richly drawn characters. And so well acted. I went through 4 seasons over the Christmas holidays–couldn’t get enough.

    So, I anticipate doing the same thing when season 5 comes out on DVD.

    • Like many, I watched this brilliant show on N.F., got addicted and marathon watched in a very period of time. I was driving to Austin, the day after my binge viewing and saw a beat up RV, convinced it was a mobile meth lab. I would see a cop and be very conscience of what I was doing. Saw a Prius and just knew Walter was driving it! Freaking brilliant show!

  17. I fail to see how Netflix could be to blame for a drop in current season ratings vs previous season ratings. The current seasons aren’t on Netflix and to my knowledge never have been.

    I would think that websites offering free streaming of TV shows, like “Project Free TV” and the sorts, would be more to blame. I haven’t used these services and don’t know just how soon the episodes get uploaded for viewing after the respective air dates.

    Testing this theory, a quick web search just provided several places that you can watch Season 5: Ep. 1-8 and again these are NOT available on Netflix.

  18. I love Breaking Bad and watched all of it on Netflix and can’t wait for this final season. Been spreading the word about this show to all my friends. I can’t believe that this next season will be the end. Please don’t let it end.

  19. The good shows always get cancelled because the producers don’t know what their doing.

    They put in on than sometimes it’s forever before it comes back, some fans forget what happened or whatever then lose interest because it so long before it comes on again.

  20. I wanted to watch the series progress as it was put out, but I patiently waited until it was available on Netflix… I do like to be able to watch the show continuously or stop it for the day. With this show I was always wasting days and staying up too late. I did buy a few season 4 episodes to subside myself before it was available on netflix.. but I have kept heavy at not spending an additional dime (after my subscription to Netflix) to see season 5.. I work long hours and have little time for entertainment.. I would prefer this to be available on demand and “endless”. So I guess it is Netflix that has resulted in me not taking time off or spending too much cash on Breaking Bad.. but I probably would have tried to ignore the show if it wasn’t on netflix, or available in the same way. I think the entertainment industry needs to adapt to this change of need. I’m an American, and I need to work to survive. I will not sacrifice my daily life for entertainment.

  21. The ratings drop could be due to the fact that Dish Network dropped AMC for about 4 months and did not pick it back up until after the new episodes were already aired, and there have been no episodes aired in reruns.

  22. So where can I watch season 5?

    • pretty soon

    • is that you stu?

  23. The story was over after season 4. Perfect story arc and not one weak episode in the whole four seasons. To go for a 5th is surely just a money grab. Once you’ve lost your nemesis (and what a memesis Gus was) it’s time to turn out the lights.

  24. The ratings were down NOT because of Netflix. Netflix was the reason I started watching the show. The ratings were down because anyone with Dish Network wasn’t able to get AMC during the season. This is why I missed last season and am waiting for it to come on Netflix so I can be caught up and watch the new season when it premiers.

  25. I for one am a huge fan of the show… that said I didn’t watch it once on AMC because I missed episode 1. I’m adamant that I see these in order and preferably one right after the other… make it an all day event. Waiting for Netflix to make the 5th seasons first 8 episodes available to the United States. They did that for Ireland and the UK but so far the US has been left out.

  26. I stumbled upon Breaking Bad and feel in love with it the very first show. I hate waiting. I would rather just wait until it hits DVD, kick back and watch it all night. Oh, yeah I saw someone commented….. ” Not enough Saul”! I def would agree with that. Also, I can not imagine how this is going to end ( it better be frigen good)! They do really know how to drag it out. They do it purposely, knowing Custs are gonna go out and buy the other seasons to catch up/ freshen up. What ever… I guess it is worth the wait. Please make it be an unforgettable ending!

  27. DISH really does suck. Worse than cable by a mile. Though it’s helped me stop watching TV altogether. Take that “Government Media Industrial Complex”!

    I too have not seen the 1st half of Seas 5, but I did just manage to get the 1st episode. If you have an Amazon account. Go there now and it will offer you the 1st episode free. Hopefully you have a way to stream it. For once that Wii I bought my kids is paying off for me! Netflix sucks too by the way. 9 times out of 10, the movie I’m searching for, they don’t have.

    Also if it’s down to the wire and you still haven’t seen S5 eps 1-8, AMC’s airing them consecutively beginning Sunday @ 12:30am. (so like really Saturday Night. All 8 episodes 12:30a 08/11/13, right through the day leading up to the premier at 9pm (EDT).

    This may be common knowledge to you guys, but I had a heck of a time just trying to get that from AMC’s website. They show the schedule and the names of the episodes, but not what season they are or what episode number. Can they get anymore idiotic? I had to use one Wiki screen with the proper information, and cross reference on AMC’s inept site.

    And I’ll never get what anybody sees in The Walking Dead. Weren’t there enough B horror movies around when you were growing up? If I want to see blood and gore, I’ll look at Al-Jazeera, and see what a fine mess Obama and Hilary have made over there. No thank you.