It's not the highest-rated cable series on television, but it's certainly one that continues to grow for AMC.
The fifth season premiere of "Breaking Bad" averaged just under 3 million viewers Sunday, providing its biggest audience yet. That's great news for a show that is highly serialized like "Breaking Bad," meaning new viewers would have to catch up using alternative media like Netflix, video on demand or even DVD.
But it also shows why critics seem to love the show enough to honor it with Emmys every year that it's eligible.
The 2.9 million viewers for the premiere is up 14 percent over the fourth season premiere, according to Entertainment Weekly. It was also up 34 percent among its key adult advertising demographic, which could mean great news for AMC as it tries to sell the second half of the current season.
This is all significant growth from the show's first season, which averaged just 1.2 million viewers back in January 2008. The second season did slightly better, drawing in 1.3 million viewers. But it really wouldn't be until the fourth season that the audience exploded for the series, bringing in an average of 1.5 million viewers in 2010.
The series was created by Vince Gilligan, who got his start as a writer for "The X-Files" on Fox, and later on other Fox genre shows like the short-lived "The Lone Gunmen," and served as a consulting producer on Chris Carter's short-lived "Harsh Realm."
"Breaking Bad" stars Bryan Cranston as a genius chemist who, after discovering he has terminal cancer, decides to jump into the world of crystal meth production. The series also stars Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt and R.J. Mitte.
The series has been nominated for 16 Emmys throughout its first four seasons, winning six of them. They include three Outstanding Lead Actor trophies for Cranston, who was previously best known in a comedic role in the popular Fox series "Malcolm in the Middle."
Also winning Emmys were Lynne Willingham twice for single-camera picture editing, as well as a win in 2010 for Paul in a supporting actor category.
"Breaking Bad" airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on AMC.
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