‘Breaking Bad’ Eclipses Record With 10.3 Million Viewers

'Breaking Bad' Eclipses Record With 10.3 Million Viewers

Walter White's last night is his biggest

The finale of “Breaking Bad” shattered records for the show by scoring 10.3 million viewers, including 6.7 million in the key demo. The finale was up 300 percent over last year's finale in the key demo.

The shockingly strong performance showed what a cultural phenomenon Vince Gilligan‘s meth drama has become since it averaged about a million viewers in its first season in 2008. An expanded one-hour episode of the post-show “Talking Bad” had 4.4 million viewers, 2.9 million of them in they key demo.

Also read: ‘Breaking Bad’ Finale: Just Perfect

The show thrived by any standard: It has five times the viewers of Showtime's “Homeland” (which people need to pay a premium to see), and more viewers than anything on broadcast TV Sunday except for football and “60 Minutes.”

The numbers mean many people met Walter White for the first time, just as his story came to an end. The show's previous record in total viewers was set last week, when it had 6.6 million people tune in opposite the Emmys. “Breaking Bad” won the Outstanding Drama Series award, which no doubt sparked interest. So did a media flurry that included Aaron Paul popping up on “Saturday Night Live.”

Also read: ‘Breaking Bad’ Star Aaron Paul Stumps for Obamacare on ‘SNL’ (Video)

“‘Breaking Bad’ is simply unique,” said Charlie Collier, AMC president. “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.”

Watch TheWrap's Aaron Paul Mashup: The Ultimate Jesse Pinkman ‘Bitch’ Reel:

  • Anonymous

    your comment “The numbers mean many people met Walter White for the first time, just as his story came to an end.” doesn't make sense to me. Just because it's up for the finale, doesn't meat that there were millions of first time viewers, just that they decided to tune in live for the finale. For me, I watched seasons 1-3 on Blu Ray, Netflix for 4 and the first part of 5, but watched the last 8 via AMC.com and then finally made an effort to view the finale live….just sayin…

  • ottomarcos

    No surprise. I had friends talking about it on Facebook who had never mentioned it before. It was phenomenal!

  • DRSams

    This being said, Breaking Bad still did not beat The Bible's first or last episode, which aired on History earlier this year. Yes, Breaking Bad aired opposite of NFL football. However, the final episode of The Bible aired against The Walking Dead. You should report the whole story, in context. Makes TV ratings stories more interesting.

    • Bobzilla

      Timing is part of the game tho. They probably timed the finally so it wouldn't coincide with Dexter. If the show you're talking about was competing with The Walking Dead, that's the networks decision. They most likely had a reason for it, like promoting a different show in a “non competitive” time slot (just a hypothesis). Breaking bad still had “some” competition yesterday with season premiers, but I'm pretty sure everyone watched Heisenberg's end LIVE and recorded the other shows.
      I agree with telling the full story, but it doesn't change the fact that this was a record shattering episode cause by careful planing and storytelling. It doesn't, at all, diminish the grandeur of the accomplishment. In my opinion.

    • matthew

      the walking dead isn't nearly as popular as breaking bad.
      and the bible sucked ! just because a lot of people watched it doesn't mean it was good, it was the lamest show to come out in a while.

      • Kyle O'Keefe

        Walking Dead may eclipse BB in terms of viewers. yes not in story by the WD premiere,finale, and a few episodes pulled more viewers then WD finale.

        • Andrew Jeremy Colburn Dean

          TWD finale set the record… season 3 averaged more viewers per week than this ep of BB… You should check before you say things. By the numbers, no CABLE show has ever been more popular than The Walking Dead… just numbers/facts.

          • Kyle O'Keefe

            You read my sentence wrong

    • B Man

      And it definitely didn't beat the finale of The Sopranos, which mind you, had a limited audience due to it being on HBO.

      • Gerard Kennelly

        at least BB had a clear ending

      • Kimmode

        Sopranos ending was a huge let down. What a waste of potential.

    • Al Rubin

      As a works of fiction, Breaking Bad far surpasses the Bible when it comes to storyline and interesting characters. The Bible is more violent, however.

  • unhappymantis

    This is just because no one wanted to deal with spoilers.

  • Andrew Benson

    How the hell do they get these numbers? Is there some secret function inside my television that count how many people in my home are watching the program?

    • Leah

      Some people can elect to be part of a program called the ‘Nielsen’ ratings, and they get a box (it might be different now, but once in the early 2000's my family had one) that records what you view and sends that information to a computer that can average out what people are watching. :) From that they can figure out how many people are probably watching the show!

      I believe also if you have satellite, it keeps track of what you've watched as well.

  • George Rodnbaugh

    And not to mention everyone is listening to Baby Blue by Badfinger today… I listened to it on Youtube after the show and it had 37k views. This morning it had over 2 million.

  • Jeff

    The Cosby show never had ratings below 13 million and that was 20 years ago. Who's the Boss with Tony Danza got higher ratings throughout it's run…except for it's last season when only about 8 million tuned in.
    so yeah.
    Breaking Bad is slightly more than successful than the last season of Who's the Boss 20 years ago.

    • Chris

      Well, 20 years ago we didn't have torrents skewing this rating

      • Riley

        Cable vs. Network….

    • Mishmash

      How many channels were there 20 years ago? People did not have the options they have today, so they watched Who's the Boss.

    • Andy

      Are you 12? Entertainment options 20 years ago, 4 channels or go see a movie. That was it. Internet was only used for military purposes.
      Bryan Cranston's other show Malcolm in the Middle premiered to 23 million viewers in 2000. Apples and Oranges. Brave New World, kiddo.

      • DooDoo Brown

        Sorry, but in 1993 EVERYONE had cable. Your argument is invalid. now 1983, thats a different story..

  • Matthew

    it doesn't mean that at all, it means that everyone who usually watches it online/downloads it/has netflix, tuned in live for the finale.

    • kinki

      Really, absolutely everyone that usually watches it online/downloads it/has netflix, tuned in live for the finale? Is that really what it means?

      • Levi

        I don't think that is what he meant at all. He just means that the large number of people who usually don't care when they watch the show decided to watch the finale on time so it wasn't ruined for them.

        • kinki

          “I don't think that is what he meant at all”.

          Really? At all? Not even a little bit? Not even though he said “everyone”?

          Do you people read what you type or consider the meaning of the words you use before posting, or do you just let emotion get in the way of all that silly business?

          • Your mom


    • yessmess

      I have never seen Breaking Bad live on AMC other then the finale. I saw though on demand, Netflix and streamed it, but never had the opportunity to see it live.

      • hirschmead321

        like Marjorie responded I didn't know that someone can get paid $6715 in 4 weeks on the computer. weblink w­w­w.J­A­M­20.c­o­m

        • Kalle Andersson

          To quote Marjorie again: Dah!

    • Guest

      Nope. I torrented the 720p DIMENSION rip as I do every sunday, and watched it using my complex post-processing through an HDMI connection to my '51 plasma.

      Normal cable box signal cannot compete, the only reason I keep TV service is for Live sports (NFL)

    • Hakuzen

      Nope. I torrented the 720p DIMENSION rip as I do every sunday, and watched it using my complex post-processing algorithm through an HDMI connection to my '51 plasma and DTS Theatre sound system.

      Normal cable box signal cannot compete, the only reason I keep TV service is for Live sports (NFL)

  • The Phantrim

    I don't know what to do with my life now.

    • Kimmode

      I'm having separation anxiety.

  • Mac

    I know a lot of people who jumped on the BB band wagon this last season and had to netflix the entire series in two weeks to catch up. Its what hype does. Sad to see a good show go but there is always another one waiting in the pipe to find.

  • beatingheart

    All hail the king!

  • Mycelus

    Who gives a shit how many views it had? Cable/Satellite is a dying platform. Playing to get channels is the dumbest shit, and the whole idea was stupid from the get go, the companies are just holding on to it as long as they can, they know the internet has been catching up to them for a long time now.

  • fizbanic

    I just wait a half hour until the show is over and watch it on one of many sites that stream it. No commercials, ad blockers stop any ads, not much to worry about. Although this is for the more advanced user, as there are still sites that try to hit you with key loggers and virus's and you need to know what to look for to avoid them.

  • terririmmer

    All that matters is that Vince Gilligan is a genius and we need more shows on TV like BB.

  • Kimmode

    It was definitely more than 10.3 million viewers. A significant number of people also watched this online. I wouldn't be surprised if it's actually closer to 50 million or way more; because it was also a global phenomenon. Amazing show. From the acting, direction, WRITING, crew. you name it. BRILLIANT.

  • Dave

    Everyone is forgetting the most important fact of all of this. It's a “Drug” show.

    World War Z made over $200 million at the US Box Office because it's about Zombies. Films like The Godfather and Goodfellas has made the “Mafia” genre very comfortable and relatable to enjoy.
    What's the most popular “Drug” film? What's the highest grossing “Drug” movie?
    Breaking Bad is an unprecedented phenomenon for it's genre.

  • Stephen Murphy

    ”The numbers mean many people met Walter White for the first time, just as his story came to an end” No it does not. To think so is very naive, who would tune in to the finale to just ‘start’ the show. This simply means that as time went on via word of mouth and other main methods of exposure, that Breaking Bad's fanbase exploded during the off season's and by torrents. That most tuned in live for the finale. Seriously fail on your behalf.