The much-anticipated final-season premiere of “Breaking Bad” averaged 5.9 million viewers on Sunday, according to Nielsen — about double the 2.93 million it drew for its regular-timeslot premiere of a year ago.
The show, which has always been a critical darling, bowed in January 2008 with a modest 1.41 million viewers but built with each season, coming in just shy of 2 million with its premiere in March 2010, and then 2.58 million for its fourth-season opener in July 2011.
With its short seasons and addictive storylines, the award-winning drama has benefited from strong word-of-mouth and catch-up viewing via streaming video to pick up hordes of new viewers.
The series trended on Twitter for much of last week — though that isn’t always a trusted ratings indicator — and lead Bryan Cranston could be seen talking up the show on latenight with Jay Leno, Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert.
In adults 18-49, Sunday’s “Breaking Bad” did a 2.8 rating (about 3.6 million viewers in that age group), beating its broadcast competition during the 9 o’clock hour. This was also a series high, besting the show’s previous high (1.5), set with its premiere last summer.
And capping the night at 11 p.m. for AMC was the premiere of “Talking Bad,” a 30-minute talkshow devoted to the night’s episode of “Breaking Bad.” It averaged about 1.2 million viewers
The network had previously seen good numbers for “Talking Dead,” which discusses its “The Walking Dead.” And Discovery scored over the past week with “Shark After Dark,” related to the net’s popular Shark Week programming.