Record Ratings and Illegal Download Spike for ‘Breaking Bad’

The final season of AMC’s “Breaking Bad” debuted with its best ever rating of 5.9 million viewers. Part of the high ratings can be attributed to Netflix, where subscribers can watch all previous episodes of the series, providing new viewers with a way to catch up prior to the new season. Along with the high ratings, there was a spike in illegal downloads of “Breaking Bad” episodes. This occurred despite the show being made available within hours across global regions.

Netflix offers the entire series for streaming. New viewers can watch all previous episodes to catch up on the story lines, which may have contributed to the show’s high ratings.

Netflix may also boost the viewership of other shows on network or cable TV, although some shows such as “The Killing” have not experienced major increases in viewership.

“This wasn’t the first season ‘Breaking Bad’ had the Netflix effect working for it, but you could argue it takes more than a year for the full power of the kind of licensing deal AMC signed with the streaming service in 2011 to really demonstrate its value,” reports Variety.

Tied to the new episode, the show caused a sudden increase in BitTorrent traffic with “Breaking Bad” downloads. Most of the traffic came from Australia and the U.S., but with significant traffic from Canada and the United Kingdom.

The fifth season of “Breaking Bad” debuted globally all within a few hours of each other. However, viewers still opted to download the episode rather than wait.

The “latest download figures make the show one of the most pirated in 2013 thus far,” suggests TorrentFreak. “Nevertheless, it doesn’t come close to the record set by ‘Game of Thrones,’ which became the most pirated TV show of the spring season with 5.2 million downloads.”