6.5 Million People Watched Netflix’s Breaking Bad Film El Camino on Opening Weekend

Nielsen said 2.6 million tuned in the day of its release

65% of El Camino's debut weekend audience was in the 18-49 demo.
Ben Rothstein/Netflix

On its opening weekend on Netflix, the Breaking Bad film El Camino attracted nearly 6.5 million viewers in the U.S., marking a considerable audience for the anticipated movie.

More than 2.6 million people in the U.S. tuned in to watch the film on Oct. 11, when it debuted, according to Nielsen’s SVOD Content Ratings. While the film’s average-minute audience was 6.5 million (the metric that is comparable to traditional television ratings), Nielsen said it reached nearly 8.2 million unique U.S. viewers in its first three days of release.

El Camino served as a movie continuation of the acclaimed AMC drama Breaking Bad, with actor Aaron Paul reprising his role as Jesse Pinkman following the events of the show’s season finale. Netflix had advertised for the film during the 2019 Emmy Awards, and a Breaking Bad pop-up opened this week in Los Angeles in celebration of the film. (Breaking Bad itself has been available to stream on Netflix since 2014.)

Nielsen said 65% of El Camino’s debut weekend audience—4.2 million—fell into the 18-49 demo.

The numbers indicate that El Camino is attracting considerable viewership in its first days on the service. Netflix’s surprise movie hit Bird Box, for comparison, attracted 3.6 million on its first day on the service and ultimately saw nearly 26 million viewers in its first week.

The Breaking Bad series finale, which aired on AMC in 2013, was watched by  10.3 million viewers and had a 5.2 rating among 18- to 49-year-olds.

In the same week of El Camino’s premiere, Nielsen said Breaking Bad viewership also shot up on the service. The measurement company said Breaking Bad episodes had an average minute audience of more than 153,000, nearly 147% more than three weeks prior.

Nielsen’s SVOD Content Ratings only measure U.S. viewers watching on connected TV devices like smart TVs and Rokus, which account for around 75% of all Netflix viewing, but do not include mobile or PC streaming. So the metric does not account for the entire U.S. audience, nor does it include Netflix’s international viewers. But given Netflix’s refusal to release metrics for all but a few of its original films and TV shows, it’s the best indication of U.S. viewership.

Netflix, which is facing a number of deep-pocketed competitors, has been emphasizing its investment in original content, which will reach $15 billion this year. During an investors video released on Wednesday, Netflix executives emphasized original films that are slated to premiere in the fourth quarter, including the Martin Scorsese film The Irishman.

“These are big, theatrically ambitious-type films that you’ll be able to watch on Netflix, included in your subscription,” Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said. “It really is a fundamental change in the economics of how people enjoy films. So we’re really excited about it. And it’s our first time we’ve seen the scale and this volume of films in one quarter, so we’re really excited about it.”

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