As the spinoff of a beloved series like “Breaking Bad,” the odds seemed stacked against AMC’s “Better Call Saul.” But it has both been embraced whole-heartedly by critics while also emerging as the highest-rated new cable series of the broadcast season.
And for good measure, it also helped AMC plant a scripted flag on Monday nights.
For the season, “Saul” averaged 5.9 million viewers, including 3.7 million adults 18-49 and 3.6 million adults 25-54, according to Nielsen’s “live plus-3” estimates (which include three days’ worth of DVR playback). The show got a big launch courtesy of “The Walking Dead,” but after seeing an expected decline the following week, it held at a strong level during the rest of its 10-episode run.
Last Monday’s season finale averaged 5.1 million viewers, including 3.1 million adults 18-49 and 3.3 million adults 25-54 in “live plus-3.” In 18-49, that tied it for seventh among all scripted dramas for the week — on par with NBC’s “Chicago PD” and a bit ahead of the two top-rated broadcast series in its 10 o’clock hour (veteran dramas “Castle” on ABC and “NCIS: Los Angeles” on CBS).
Season one of “Better Call Saul” also drew strong TVE activity, generating more than 4.4 million TVE streams on AMC.com and nearly 11.5 million VOD transactions. “Better Call Saul” joins “The Walking Dead” and “Talking Dead” as the third AMC series this season to rank in the top 5 cable programs among viewers, adults 18-49 and adults 25-54 in L+3.
“As much as we enjoyed the year-plus gestation period that included friends, fans, critics and even family members telling us not to mess with the legacy of ‘Breaking Bad’ (one of the most beloved series in television history), this was never anything we took even close to lightly. Happily, the first season of ‘Better Call Saul’ delivered on every level imaginable thanks to the continued brilliance of, and enjoyable partnership with, Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould,” said Charlie Collier, AMC president, in a statement. “The broad and passionate response to their incredibly well-executed vision, and to the achievements of the entire writing team, cast, crew, our studio partner, Sony, and – of course, notably, the remarkable Bob Odenkirk – is so well-deserved. ‘Better Call Saul’ has already established itself as one of TV’s top dramas, and we can’t wait to share season two as Slippin’ Jimmy continues his metamorphosis into full-on Sauldom.”