Does Breaking Bad show that we’re hooked on online video?

:: This blog was written by us for Brand Republic and first appeared on their site

The hype surrounding the return of award-winning drug drama ‘Breaking Bad’ has been huge and shows the power that online streaming services are now starting to wield.

Netflix aired the first of the final shows here, just hours after it premiered in the US. In the States, it returned to 5.9 million viewers on cable channel AMC – more than double the ratings for the previous series.

Netflix is being coy about exactly how many people here watched online, but a quick check on your social media timelines should help answer that. Bear in mind that Netflix is the only outlet for ‘Breaking Bad’ in the UK, bar DVD box sets. Fans of the Emmy award-winning show have been slowly growing since its debut in January 2008.  That’s more or less the complete opposite of what often happens with serial dramas – and a good deal of that fan base is down to Netflix.

Binge watching is fast becoming viewers’ favourite way to watch TV. In fact, 50,000 Netflix subscribers watched all 13 episodes of the fourth season of ‘Breaking Bad’, the day before Season 5 premiered.

The binge-watching phenomenon continued with Netflix’s original drama ‘House of Cards’, which earned the title of Netflix’s “most-watched show” after all 13 episodes were released at once.

We’re entering into a world where broadcast networks are becoming optional – programming can find a home online and viewers are embracing the chance to watch content in their own time, whether that be over six months or in one Saturday afternoon.

To quote ‘Breaking Bad’ character Walter White, perhaps broadcasters who think online is a niche should “tread lightly”.

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