LOS ANGELES (AFP) ― The much-anticipated final episode of “Breaking Bad” drew the cult TV show‘s largest ever audience ― 10.3 million viewers ― but there were also more than 500,000 illegal downloads, figures showed Monday.
The series, centered around once humble chemistry teacher turned drug lord Walter White, ended Sunday with a thrilling climax to its fifth and final season a week after winning best drama at the Emmys, television’s Oscars.
In doing so it drew 3.7 million more viewers than the penultimate episode seven days earlier, which itself had set a series record at 6.6 million, the ratings tracker Nielsen said, cited by industry journal Variety.
“Breaking Bad,” set in the dangerous world of methamphetamine (crystal meth) trading, which White rises to dominate, mesmerized viewers with a cocktail of meticulously crafted plot, fine acting and scenic camera work.
The final episode’s record ratings, however, were less than the biggest audience for the “The Walking Dead” on 12.4 million, but almost three times the largest-ever figure for award-winning advertising drama “Mad Men,” which drew 3.5 million for the first show in its fifth series.
While AMC, the cable channel which broadcasts “Breaking Bad,” will be happy with the high ratings, they will be less pleased at the number of people who watched the final episode through illicit means around the world.
The show was illegally downloaded more than half a million times within 12 hours of the first illegal copy appearing online, according to online piracy news website TorrentFreak.
Australia had the largest number of illegal downloads with 18 percent of the total, followed by the United States on 14.5 percent, Britain on 9.3 percent, India on 5.7 percent and Canada 5.1 percent, it reported.