AMC's 'Breaking Bad' Season 5 Premiere is Most-Watched Episode Ever

Categories: 2-Featured,Network TV Press Releases

Written By

July 16th, 2012


Those polled called it right, despite the squabble with Dish, Breaking Bad set records in its 10p premiere in total viewers (2.9 million) and adults 18-49 (~1.5 rating).

via press release:







2.2 HH RATING, +22%


1.9 MILLION ADULTS 18-49, +34%


New York – July 16, 2012 Last night’s season five debut of AMC’s “Breaking Bad” was the most watched episode in the history of the series. From 10pm – 11pm, the network earned a 2.2 HH rating delivering 2.9 million viewers. This marks an increase of +22%/ +14% respectively. Even more impressive is the exceptional growth among the coveted 18-49 demo, which saw a +34% increase versus last season’s premiere.  Among the Adults 25-54 demo, “Breaking Bad” delivered 1.8 million marking an increase of +28%. For the night, “Breaking Bad’s” season 5 premiere attracted 3.5 million viewers with the 10:00 pm EST premiere and the 11:30pm EST encore. In August, AMC announced the final 16 episodes to conclude the series.  “Breaking Bad” airs on AMC Sunday nights at 10pm ET/PT.


“From day one, ‘Breaking Bad’ has been a passion project for all of us at AMC. This show has helped define what our brand stands for in terms of supporting quality storytelling and creative risk-taking. Working with these terrifically creative people on such outstanding material has been a joy-filled ride. I’m so pleased to share this success with the entire ‘Breaking Bad’ team,” said Charlie Collier, AMC’s president. “We look forward to sharing the final 16 episodes with ‘Breaking Bad's’ passionate fans. As our marketing campaign says, ‘All hail ‘The King.’”


AMC is carried on every cable, satellite and TelCo provider except the Dish network.


Key Nielsen Highlights for the season five premiere of “Breaking Bad”:


  • 10pm airing – 2.2 HH rating with 2.9 million viewers: +22%/+14% vs. season 4 premiere
  • 10pm airing – 1.9 million Adults 18-49:  +34% vs. season 4 premiere
  • 10pm airing – 1.8 million Adults 25-54: +28% vs. season 4 premiere
  • 10 pm, 11:30 pm airings cumed to 3.5 million viewers


Source: The Nielsen Company, L+SD, 7/15/2012


Over the past five seasons, “Breaking Bad” has been heralded as one of the best TV dramas on television.

USA Today said, “As hard and sharp and brilliant as a diamond, and in the TV landscape, just as valuable. And, with only 16 episodes left, almost as rare.”  The New York Post said, “the best antihero on television. Not just today, but ever.” People Magazine called it, ““the best TV drama ever... Bad has taken the complexity of modern television storytelling to new levels.” The Toronto Star states, “the beginning of the end for the best show on television.”


“Breaking Bad” stars  Emmy® Award-winner Bryan Cranston as Walter White; Emmy® Award-winner Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman; Anna Gunn as Skyler White; Dean Norris as Hank Schrader; Betsy Brandt as Marie Schrader; RJ Mitte as Walter, Jr; Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman; and Jonathan Banks as Mike. “Breaking Bad” is filmed on location in Albuquerque, NM.


The series first premiered on AMC in January 2008 and follows protagonist Walter White, a milquetoast high school chemistry teacher who lives in New Mexico with his wife, teenage son who has cerebral palsy and a new baby girl.  White is diagnosed with Stage III cancer and given a prognosis of two years left to live.  With a new sense of fearlessness based on his medical prognosis, and a desire to gain financial security for his family, White chooses to enter a dangerous world of drugs and crime and ascends to power in this world. The series explores how a fatal diagnosis such as White’s releases a typical man from the daily concerns and constraints of normal society and follows his transformation from mild-mannered family man to a kingpin of the drug trade. 


“Breaking Bad” has received sixteen Emmy® Award nominations in the following categories: “Outstanding Drama Series” (2009, 2010); "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series" for Bryan Cranston (2008, 2009, 2010); “Outstanding Supporting Actor” for Aaron Paul (2009, 2010); “Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series” for Vince Gilligan (2008) and Michelle MacLaren (2010); “Outstanding Cinematography for a one-hour series” for John Toll (2008) and Michael Slovis (2009, 2010); “Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series;” "Outstanding Single Picture Camera Editing for a Drama Series" for Lynne Willingham (2008, 2009) and Skip McDonald (2010); with six wins overall for Cranston (2008, 2009, 2010); Paul (2010); and Willingham (2008, 2009).


“Breaking Bad” is produced by High Bridge Productions, Inc. and Gran Via Productions in association with Sony Pictures Television for AMC.  Executive Producers are Vince Gilligan, Mark Johnson, and Michelle MacLaren; Co-Executive Producers Melissa Bernstein and Sam Catlin; Supervising Producers Peter Gould, George Mastras, and Tom Schnauz; Producers Moira Walley-Beckett, Bryan Cranston, and Diane Mercer; Produced By Stewart A. Lyons; Associate Producer Andrew Ortner, Staff Writer Gennifer Hutchison; and Director of Photography Michael Slovis.


About AMC

AMC reigns as the only cable network in history to ever win the Emmy® Award for Outstanding Drama Series four years in a row, as well as the Golden Globe® Award for Best Television Series - Drama for three consecutive years.  Whether commemorating favorite films from every genre and decade or creating acclaimed original programming, the AMC experience is an uncompromising celebration of great stories.  AMC's original stories include “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad,” “The Walking Dead,” “The Killing” and “Hell on Wheels.”  AMC further demonstrates its commitment to the art of storytelling with AMC’s Docu-Stories, a slate of unscripted original series, as well as curated movie franchises like AMC’s Can’t Get Enough and AMC’s Crazy About.  Available in more than 96 million homes (Source: Nielsen Media Research), AMC is owned and operated by AMC Networks Inc. and its sister networks include IFC, Sundance Channel and WE tv.  AMC is available across all platforms, including on-air, online, on demand and mobile.  AMC: Story Matters HereSM.


About Sony Pictures Television

Sony Pictures Television is one of the television industry’s leading content providers.  It produces and distributes programming in every genre, including series, telefilms, theatrical releases and family entertainment around the world and for every platform:   broadcast and cable television, first-run and off-network syndication and digital distribution.  In addition to one of the industry’s largest libraries of feature films and television shows, SPT boasts a current program slate that includes the top-rated daytime dramas and game shows, landmark off-network series, original animated series and critically acclaimed primetime dramas, comedies and telefilms.  Internationally, SPT is a leader in local language productions around the world, some of which are co-produced with local partners, and sells SPE-owned formats in approximately 70 countries.  To better serve its clients and partners worldwide, SPT maintains offices throughout the world, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, the People’s Republic of China, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Venezuela and the United Kingdom. SPT's worldwide television networks portfolio is a key strategy in SPE's long-range commitment to the global marketplace, with 120 channel feeds, which are available in 159 countries reaching more than 500 million households worldwide.  SPT also creates original content for and manages SPE’s premium video website, Crackle.  Additionally, SPT owns Dutch entertainment company 2waytraffic, production company Embassy Row and Sony Movie Channel, and is a part owner of cable channel GSN, new 3D channel 3net, FEARnet, the premier horror/thriller website and VOD service, and national media sales company ITN Networks, Inc.  SPT advertiser sales is one of the premiere national advertising sales companies, handling the commercial inventory in SPT’s syndicated series as well as in all of SPE's digital businesses in the United States.  SPT ( is a Sony Pictures Entertainment company.


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  • irishking

    Breaking Bad can also thank Netflix, as can SOA and Walking Dead, Burnt Notice and White Collar. These are quality shows on cable stations that I normally would never have found if not for being guided there by netflix (system that captures what you watch and makes recommendations).

  • Johnny G

    Simple fact: Comcast never has these issues and Dish Network is now on a 3rd (I believe) arguement with a network. When you’re the one constantly having issues, maybe you’re the one with the problem? If you have Dish, I recommend dropping them. Other providers may cost more but you get quality. Dish is all about being cheap and this is what you get when you pick price over quality. This will not be the last time they drop a network, that is obvious from their track record.

  • Craig

    @ Johnny G
    Yet Directv is missing a lot more channels from its lineup over similar issues with Viacom. 17 channels vs Dish only missing 3. The whole thing with Dish and AMC is bigger than just carriage fees though. It has to do with a lawsuit between the two going years back. Its companies being kids and throwing tantrums but you can not blame a provider from trying to keep the cost of its subscription fees down for the customers. Directv also dropped Tribune stations for a week a couple months ago, Time Warner Cable almost dropped Fox networks a couple years ago… all the providers are fighting over networks raising fees. Some give in to the demanded increase, others can afford to pay more… mostly cable companies. They have Internet and Phone fees that make up the loss due to higher network fees. Comcast is a giant… the networks know better than to pull their channels from them. They would have a significant drop in viewers and revenue.

  • Obvious1

    It may have been it’s highest rated episode, but it was also one of it’s more lackluster ones as well. And the thing with the electromagnet was just plain silly.

  • Steve

    I’d say this is huge support for AMC in their battle against Dish. On Dish’s Facebook page for the last 2 months, Dish’s own representatives, in their twisted logic, continually called AMC’s programming “extraneous”. I switched to DirecTV after 15 years as a Dish customer, just because of this dispute.

  • Delimart

    Breaking Bad numbers up.. This proves to me that Dish customers don’t watch AMC… This will end up helping Dish not AMC… but on the other hand AMC I guess could care less, their show was not affected at all, heck it gained lol… I expect this to be a lonnnnnng battle between them..

  • Feedback

    Too bad Breaking Bad won’t reach the 88 necessary for stripped syndication. It’s missing 41 episodes as of the season 5 premiere and it’s only getting 15 more.

    I wish a miracle could happen and they order an extra 26 episodes.

  • Doug

    @Feedback – I don’t. The show looks to go out with a huge bang, so the last thing we need it 26 more episodes thrown in to draw things out.

    I really don’t think that BB’s ratings surge does anything at all for AMC’s position vis-a-vis Dish. AMC’s problem is not the ratings for The Walking Dead (which could very well be TV’s highest rated drama this fall) or Breaking Bad, or Mad Men (somewhat), it’s the ratings for virtually everything else the network airs. Having 16 hours a year that grab a 4 rating, 8 at a 1.5 (if BB holds up) and 12 at a 1.0 (for Mad Men), is not a strong bargaining position.

  • Alex

    AMC streamed the episode.

  • joss

    It may have been it’s highest rated episode, but it was also one of it’s more lackluster ones as well. And the thing with the electromagnet was just plain silly.

    No it wasnt it was pretty smart actually

  • Hugh

    Woo hoo!

    Can see this getting a 2.0 in the finale next year.

  • CCV

    How the hell would Breaking Bad benefit from being syndicated? That would not be a miracle, it would be a travesty. No. No. NO.

    Gilligan’s original plan was 3-4 seasons, and it only grew because the story grew (along with Gus’s character). The story has been built meticulously from day one to the point it is at now, and it is time to bring it to a conclusion. A story has no meaning or purpose if it does not end. Thankfully, Breaking Bad IS ending, and it will do so on its own terms. Every show should end this way–so many great ones have lost their “legendary” status because their producers wanted to milk it ad nauseum. Gilligan is too smart and good a writer to let that happen.

  • Dant2590

    I’d have never thought I’d be watching a show like Breaking Bad. I started watching on Netflix at the beginning of the summer and would find myself sitting through 6 or 8 episodes at a time. I got caught up to Season 3 where Netflix ended, and then Tivoed all of the 4th season and watched it so that I’d be caught up to watch Season 5 premiere.

    I NEVER watch dramas…mostly comedies….but I got hooked and can’t wait until next Sunday to see where it takes me. Bummer that there are only 16 episodes left. 8 this Summer and 8 next Summer.

  • silvit

    GREAT episode. Clearly the stand out show of the summer and easily of the whole year, since broadcast shows suck big time.

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