Where Is 'Mad Men's' Netflix Bump?


AMC's bid for "Breaking Bad" ratings highs seems to unravel as the first half of the Matthew Weiner drama's final season returns down 30 percent.

This story first appeared in the May 2 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

If only AMC could sell ads based on New York Times headlines.

Mad Men, perhaps the most written-about TV series of the past decade, is poised to go out on a low ratings note. The April 13 bow of the seventh and final season fell about 30 percent from 2013 to its lowest premiere — 2.3 million viewers — since 2008. The steep drop is particularly brutal because many of Mad Men's cable rivals have gained big viewers thanks to Netflix and other SVOD platforms. Netflix streams the first six seasons of Mad Men and has touted its popularity with subscribers. "We brought maybe a million viewers to AMC," Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said in 2012, when Mad Men returned to a record 3.6 million viewers.

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But the bump didn't last, even as AMC's Breaking Bad rose 102 percent in its final season, a boost credited to Netflix. That surge no doubt was a factor in AMC's decision to duplicate the Bad model and split Mad Men's final season over two years, a move that doesn't appear to be helping. "I didn't resist," creator Matthew Weiner told THR in March of the decision. "It was so successful for Breaking Bad building an audience that I was intrigued."