Was ‘Breaking Bad’ Really a Financial Hit?

Dan Mitchell

For all the hype surrounding “Breaking Bad’s final season—and especially last night’s finale—the show’s ratings were not only considerably lower than those of many other cable shows, but represented only a fraction of top-ranked network fare. The finale drew an estimated 10.3 million viewers. Despite blanket news media coverage, media appearances by cast members, and social media being overrun with Heisenberg talk, the finale didn’t even match the *average* of AMC’s biggest hit, “The Walking Dead.” The zombie-fest drew between 9 million and 11 million viewers on average last season—higher than any drama on television, including on the broadcast networks. According to Advertising Age, the average cost of a 30-second spot on “The Walking Dead” last season was between $200,000 and $250,000, with last-minute buys reaching as high as $375,000. The “Breaking Bad” finale drew a reported $250,000 for each 30-second spot. Last season, before the hype began to crest, ads were going for an average of just $56,000. The show was unquestionably a huge success for AMC, but perhaps more for its cultural currency than its actual currency (though the fact that more than half of the show’s viewers were in the all-important 18-49 age demo didn’t hurt). Together with “The Walking Dead,” and “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad” helped AMC become an advertising powerhouse: the network’s ad revenues leaped by 14% last quarter, to $147 million. Walter White may be dead, but the undead hordes of “The Walking Dead,” and the spiritually dead ad men of “Mad Men,” will help AMC get over the loss. “Mad Men” has only one season left. (MORE: How to Make Airline Tickets Less … Awful) Elsewhere on cable, Duck Dynasty—a hugely successful show about a family that makes duck calls—drew 9.6 million viewers for its season finale. “The Bible,” on The History Channel, drew an average 11.3 million viewers, though many of them outside of the 18-49 “dollar demo.” The numbers add to the continuing story of media fragmentation. The last comparable television event signoff was probably the series finale of “Friends” in

via Business Feeds

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