Breaking Bad’s fifth and final season was broken into two parts in 2012 and 2013. The first half closed out with 2.78 million views. The second half opened with 5.92 million viewers, that’s a gain of 3.14 million viewers. The series finale 8 weeks later brought in 10.3 million viewers. According to Entertainment Weekly the show’s ratings shot up 442% from the season 4 premiere to the series finale two years (18 episodes) later.
Breaking Bad definitely deserved the ratings it pulled in. It was an amazing show, and will go down as one of the best TV dramas ever. In the not too distant past, if you wanted to start watching a show that’s been on for a few seasons, you had to jump in blind. But now, thanks to DVD boxed sets, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and iTunes you can catch up on the back episodes. And that’s exactly what people did with Breaking Bad, the numbers prove this.
I probably would have never watched Breaking Bad or Doctor Who if it wasn’t for Netflix. After I caught up to what was airing on television, I tuned in every week for each new episode. Well, watched on DVR because, ew, commercials. And I did this for so many shows.
The number of people cutting the cable cord is growing and growing. But for these cord cutters who still want to consume (and pay) for content, they are being stonewalled.
Last night I wanted to watch the U.S. men’s curling match. Because time zones suck and Russia is 10 hours ahead of me, the coverage started at 11pm. However, NBC wasn’t airing curling on TV on any of their networks (NBC, NBC Sports, USA, etc.). Even though they were showing Olympics coverage on NBC there was no curling, only various skiing, snowboarding and skating. Nothing that interests me.
I fired up the NBC Sports iPad app, figuring I could at least Airplay it to my Apple TV and watch it on the big screen in my living room. But I quickly found that I could only watch the coverage on my iPad, iPhone or computer, I couldn’t send it to my TV. It’s the first worldliest of first world problems, but it’s incredibly annoying. Worse off, I needed to sign into my cable provider to prove that I pay for cable to watch the NBC coverage. So if you are a cable cutter, or catch broadcast TV over the air (people do still do that) you’re outta luck if you wanted to watch any non-televised event.
FOX was surprisingly very forward thinking and removed the requirement of signing into your cable provider to access content and allowed Super Bowl XLVIII to be streamed for free.
I’m more than happy to pay for the content I want, but I don’t want to be boxed in.
However some networks and broadcasters are locking their content down and making it difficult to access. Take a look at the list of the most pirated shows of 2013 and the speculation of why they are pirated so much.
This act is an act of desperation by the broadcasters, networks and studios to grasp a dying model. Instead of innovating they are clutching to an outdated way of doing business. They may not suffer to the same extent that the music industry did over the past 15 years, but they are treading dangerously close. They need to take chances. Create the next new thing. Netflix is doing it right now with House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and season 4 of Arrested Development.
Kevin Spacey says this all more eloquently than I could with his speech at the James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture at the Edinburgh Television Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.
You can see the full unedited version here. If you’re a reader, you can read the transcript here. But, if you have the time (47 minutes) and love television and story as much as I do, I urge you to watch this. Spacey’s passion is magnetic.
Image courtesy of mag3737