"Breaking Bad" is expanding like Walter White's meth empire: Sunday night's midseason finale earned 2.8 million viewers, a 47 percent increase over the fourth season finale.
The episode was also up 37 for adults 18-49. It was down, however, from the episode a week before, which set a record for the series by scoring 3 million total viewers, 1.85 million million of them in the key demo.
"Breaking Bad" is splitting its final,16-episode fifth season into two parts, with the final eight episode airing next year.
The first eight episodes averaged 2.6 million viewers, up 39 percent over the season four average. The show also averaged 1.6 million adults 18-49, up 56 percent.
"Congratulations to everyone involved in Sunday's great success and for delivering episode after episode of television that is nothing short of remarkable. 'Breaking Bad' began 5 years ago with a pilot that was like nothing we had ever seen on television," said Charlie Collier, AMC's president.
"That 'Breaking Bad' continues to deliver at such a remarkable level creatively, now over 50 episodes later, is a rare accomplishment that begins with Vince Gilligan and the torch is carried by every member of the team on both sides of the camera. We can't wait to share the final eight episodes with our audience."
The show has grown despite Dish Network dropping AMC stations. More and more viewers have discovered its grim charms through word of mouth, critical praise, and Emmy awards and nominations -- including 13 nominations for season four.