Update: the folks who voted in the poll called this one right. Breaking Bad set series highs in its 5th season premiere.
When Dish Network first pulled AMC’s channels (AMC WEtv and IFC) off of Dish when the parties couldn’t reach a new carriage agreement, my guess was that it would all be resolved by July 15 when Breaking Bad marked its fifth season premiere. Well it’s July 15 and at least so far my guess was wrong and I may now have to change my guess to October 14 when AMC’s legitimate cable ratings hit The Walking Dead returns for its third season.
AMC has somewhat staunched the impact of their impasse with Dish Network for Dish subscribers by streaming the premiere of Breaking Bad free to Dish customers at 10p ET tonight. But I'm guessing that's not going to count in the ratings.
In a different dispute, Viacom has pulled its 17 channels off of DirecTV. There's plenty of anecdotal data that suggests that networks like Nickelodeon and MTV have certainly taken a ratings hit since the channels were pulled. But many more people regularly watch those networks than AMC to begin with plus DirecTV is in more homes than Dish (~20 million vs. ~14 million).
So what will be the impact be on Breaking Bad's premiere ratings? Last season Breaking Bad set a record in its premiere with a 1.1 adults 18-49 rating. The season finale, while perhaps epic, did not set a new ratings record and scored a 1.0 adults 18-49 rating. Similarly while the recent season 5 finale of Mad Men set a record in terms of total viewers for a Mad Men season finale (2.7 million) it pulled just a 0.9 adults 18-49 rating. By comparison The Walking Dead's season finale on March 18 scored a massive 4.7 adults 18-49 rating. So whatever the impact on Breaking Bad is tonight, it won't be nearly as big as it will be if AMC and Dish don't work things out before October 14.
But 14 million homes isn't nothing and while neither Mad Men nor Breaking Bad are anywhere near the same ratings league as The Walking Dead, they are the cream of AMC's ratings crop outside of The Walking Dead.
My guess is Breaking Bad pulls around a 0.9 adults 18-49 rating and the impact of the feud with Dish won't be very clear. What's your guess?