Breaking Bad Premiere Breaks Ratings Records

Breaking Bad returned for its final eight episodes Sunday, and broke ratings records in the process.

The second half of season 5 drew the largest audience in the series’ history with 5.9 million viewers. That’s a 102 percent increase over last summer’s season 5 premiere, which drew 2.93 million viewers.

The premiere drew 3.6 million viewers in the key 18-49 demographic, nearly double the audience of the season 5 premiere last July (1.9 million). That was the second-best audience in that demographic on cable television this year; AMC’s other hit drama, The Walking Dead, drew 8.1 million 18-49 viewers for its season 3 finale in March. The season 3 finale of The Walking Dead drew 12.4 million total viewers, a viewership record for AMC.

The Breaking Bad premiere was also wildly popular on Twitter, generating nearly 760,000 tweets total and 11,799 tweets per minute during its 9 pm airing.

The new companion series Talking Bad, which premiered at 11 pm, drew 1.2 million viewers, with 679,000 in the 18-49 demo. The show featured an interview with series creator Vince Gilligan. Chris Hardwick — who also hosts The Walking Dead companion series, Talking Dead — asked Gilligan if he still liked Walter White.

“Not so much, no,” Gilligan said. “He’s kind of a bad dude. I mean, that was kind of the whole point of it all, but at a certain point, he’s harder and harder to sympathize with.”

Gilligan also said he was satisfied with the series’ final episodes.

“We always want to end every episode of Breaking Bad, particularly the final eight, with a big development, a big finish,” he said. “It became apparent to us that we only got eight of these things left. We wanted to move like a bat out of hell and let the chips fall where they may.”

AMC’s new series Low Winter Sun premiered to 2.5 million total viewers, losing more than half of its Breaking Bad lead-in. It drew 1.4 million viewers in the 18-49 demographic.

Did you watch the Breaking Bad premiere? What did you think?