Why Duck Dynasty hit 11.8M viewers and Breaking Bad didn’t

Breaking Bad v. Duck Dynasty

This is my personal rationale trying to break down why Duck Dynasty hit 11.8M viewers and Breaking Bad didn’t.


For those who haven’t heard, Louisiana’s “Duck Dynasty” family set another cable-TV ratings record with Wednesday’s premiere of season 4 on A&E. A record 11.8 million viewers tuned in, making it the most watched non-fiction series in cable history.

“Breaking Bad” did great for AMC. Last Sunday they kicked off the final eight episodes which drew 5.9 million viewers, more than double the number who watched the opening episode last summer.

Being a fan of both of these shows I was actually very surprised by the numbers they both pulled. I was floored that comparatively Duck Dynasty was so high and that Breaking Bad was so low.

Breaking Bad v. Duck Dynasty

In my mind I see both shows as top contenders for the most popular currently running TV programs. I love me some Si Robertson “hey” and some Jesse Pinkman “b****”.

But why didn’t Breaking Bad keep up?

Sunday’s episode of Breaking Bad was all anyone was talking about for the past few weeks. I swear every morning show, late-night show, the Internet, and even my social circles were anticipating episode 9 of season 5. Twitter near blew up during the super intense final scene. People like Rihanna were the ones tweeting about it.

But again, why didn’t Breaking Bad keep up?

Both shows have equally impressive Facebook Pages. Duck Dynasty has 5,445,774 likes with Breaking Bad close behind with 5,089,881. If the Facebook Fan Page and Twitter followers race is neck and neck then why isn’t Breaking Bad up in the 11 Million viewer range like Duck Dynasty?

Illegal Downloads

It comes down to one piece of modern day technology. Bit Torrents.

Figures collected by tech blog TorrentFreak indicate that plenty of viewers downloaded the Breaking Bad episode via torrent sites instead. The site claims that 80,000 people were sharing the episode within hours of it appearing online, and that torrented downloads had topped half a million within 12 hours.

Breaking Bad Illegal Downloads

Breaking Bad’s season premiere illegal downloads distribution world wide

That my friends is only counting downloads. Let alone how many viewers were watching each played copy or how many times each download was given to friends or family. I know every time I watch an episode of either show I wait for those I watch with to come over, pop some jiffy, and mold our butts to the couch. It’s a majestic time.

It’s also unknown how many people watched Breaking Bad on unlicensed streaming sites, which have become an increasingly high-profile headache for TV channels like AMC or A&E.

Duck Dynasty’s season premiere had less than 10% the illegal downloads that Breaking Bad’s received. The famous bittorrent site Pirate Bay can prove it. The most downloaded Duck Dynasty season 4 premiere torrent was downloaded 636 times. The most downloaded Breaking Bad season premiere torrent was downloaded 23,643 times and counting.

We have to take in account the type of viewers that each show is attracting.

Breaking Bad is a drama, about drugs, murder, and the DEA. Duck Dynasty is about duck calls, family life, and Si Robertson. You only need common sense to see that Breaking Bad is like a bone in front of a dog’s face to the hacker community. It is boils down to a stereotype that the type of person that illegally downloads is more likely to watch Breaking Bad.

This was unthinkable half a decade ago, but piracy is still far from defeated. Good or bad thing? Let me know in the comments below.


Duck Dynasty didn’t get the views because it is a better show.

If you ask me, Breaking Bad is more popular than Duck Dynasty. The only thing is that the numbers don’t show it. Tough break AMC. If it weren’t for illegal downloads, Breaking Bad would have been right up there with 11.8 Million viewers for it’s season premiere.

That being said, I don’t miss one episode of Duck Dynasty either.

2 thoughts on “Why Duck Dynasty hit 11.8M viewers and Breaking Bad didn’t

  1. The problem with illegal downloading is not people trying to beat the system in my opinion. The problem is that the TV channels make it so dang hard to consume content. So if you are like me and like Duck Dynasty, but don’t want hundreds of other channels that you never watch, and frankly are detrimental to myself and my family, then there is no other way to watch Duck Dynasty than to find a user friendly way.

    That’s the only reason why companies thrive these days. User friendliness. I don’t understand why the TV people are so scared of making things user friendly. If you really think about it the TV system is the most illogical, un-user friendly, and frustrating things around. How many of us would gladly pay a few bucks to watch the episode without paying $100+/month for the whole TV buffet. Duck Dynasty would have made nearly $12 million if it was $1/viewer/episode. I’m sure most people would have gladly paid that to watch. And I seriously doubt they make that through their advertising spots for one hour of TV. See Netflix, for example, content is not their strong point arguably, but they deliver it in a very user friendly way and it works terrifically for them. Please get on board with user friendliness TV channels!

  2. The TV stations are getting the best of both worlds, they get money for cable subscribers and from advertisers. Then they get even more money by selling the episodes the next day to people who missed it or don’t have cable. You can buy episodes the next day for $3 on itunes and amazon.

    It is not in the TV people’s economical interest to be consumer friendly. They make more money the way they are doing it. Which is what it’s all about.

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