11:46am PT by Michael O'Connell
TV Ratings: 'Breaking Bad' Return Doubles Previous Record With 5.9 Million Viewers
Breaking Bad surged to a series record Sunday night, bringing in 5.9 million viewers in its first airing -- nearly doubling its previous high. The start of the AMC series' final eight episodes, the jump makes a compelling case for how many viewers have found the series on Netflix, DVD and OnDemand during its lengthy hiatus.
The first half of Breaking Bad's final season opened with 2.9 million viewers last July, making for a 102 percent gain, year over year. A record at the time, the series eclipsed the haul several episodes later with 3 million viewers tuning into the penultimate episode before the show's break.
Breaking Bad also surged in adults 18 to 49, jumping 87 percent from last summer's season premiere with 3.6 million viewers in the demo. Adults 25 to 54 also saw gains, rising 81 percent to 3.3 million.
With just seven episodes of Breaking Bad remaining, AMC is using the swan song as a potential springboard for new series Low Winter Sun. The Detroit-set drama opened its freshman season with 2.5 million viewers at 10 p.m. Though it marked a steep 50 percent drop from its lead-in, Low Winter Sun did outmatch all recent Sunday performances of AMC's The Killing. The series also took in 1.4 million adults 18 to 49.
Chris Hardwick's latest effort for AMC, Talking Bad, saw a somewhat softer start with 1.2 million viewers (679,000 of them adults 18 to 49) -- though it did not benefit from airing immediately after Breaking Bad, like the similar series focused on The Walking Dead.
Sunday was not the only night of premieres for AMC this weekend. Saturday saw the launch of Hell on Wheels' third season and new night. The western brought in 2.5 million viewers, edging past last season's premiere by 2 percent -- and doubling the network's typical primetime performance for Saturday.