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.
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
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Source: Entertainment Weekly