“Breaking Bad” may have aired its final episode Sunday night, but there’s no cause to mourn. Just like Walter White, “Breaking Bad” went out on top, at least in its ratings.
According to TV By The Numbers, the “Breaking Bad” series finale “Felina” raked in an impressive 10.3 million viewers on its first airing alone, including 6.7 million viewers in the advertisers’ favored 18-49 demographic. The numbers far outpace the series’ previous ratings high of 6.6 million viewers. Ratings increased an incredible 300 percent over the last season finale and handily bested the night’s other non-football programming, including the return of Showtime’s “Homeland.”
“Breaking Bad is simply unique,” AMC President Charlie Collier said in a press release. “It all starts with Vince Gilligan, who really only ever asked for one thing – the opportunity to end the show on his own terms. That is exactly what Vince did last night and, as always, brilliantly so. Congratulations to Vince and to every single person involved in this remarkable journey. We’re proud that AMC will forever be known as the birthplace and home of this iconic show and, at the same time, we tip our Heisenberg hat to the fans who made this a truly shared experience.”
Throughout most of “Breaking Bad’s” run, the viewership hovered in the sub-2 million range. Its pilot episode premiered Jan. 20, 2008, with a relatively unassuming 1.4 million viewers. The series rarely made it past the 2 million mark for most of its first four seasons, even for special events like season finales. Most critics assumed that “Breaking Bad” would simply remain a little-watched but critically beloved show.
After the series debuted on Netflix’s streaming service, however, AMC saw its ratings jump dramatically. After barely ever clearing the 2 million viewers mark, the fifth season premiered with a record 2.9 million viewers. Ratings continued to climb throughout the fifth season, making a dramatic spike for Sunday night’s finale.
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The “Breaking Bad” companion series “Talking Bad” ended on a high note as well, taking in some 4.4 million viewers for Chris Hardwick’s post-episode interview.