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Digital Services Tout ‘Breaking Bad’ Access

13 Aug, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman in "Breaking Bad"

Premiere episode to final season of Emmy-winning series about a cancer-stricken high school chemistry teacher turned crystal meth maker/dealer attracts record TV audience

Less than 12 hours after AMC Networks’ Aug. 11 premiere of “Blood Money,” the first episode in the final season of Emmy-winning series “Breaking Bad,” Vudu.com offered it in standard-definition for $1.99 ($2.99 in HD).

“Bad” showcases the travails of Walter H. White (Bryan Cranston), a cancer-stricken high school chemistry teacher in Albuquerque, N.M., who begrudgingly resorts to making and selling crystal meth with Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), a former student.

The season premiere generated a record 5.9 million viewers, twice the tally for the premiere episode of season five last summer, according to AMC.

Social media “chatter tracker” Trendr reported 1.18 million online interactions (“likes,” comments, etc.) about “Blood Money” during its telecast — compared to 268,000 interactions during last year’s premiere.

Final “Bad” season passes on Walmart-owned Vudu for upcoming episodes within 24 hours of broadcast start from $14.99 in standard-definition. The passes include access to final-season sneak peeks as well as “Breaking Bad: The Transformation of Walt to Heisenberg,” — a three-minute synopsis first aired in July 2012, and available on season five DVD/Blu-ray Disc boxed sets.

The prices are comparable to “Bad” episodic/season pass offerings on CinemaNow, iTunes and Amazon Instant Video.

The ratings surge for the final season premiere sent Netflix shares up slightly due to the SVOD pioneer's exclusive pay-TV rights to "Bad" in the U.K. and Ireland the day after episodes air in the U.S. Netflix also has streaming and disc rental access to the previous five seasons of the show. The exclusivity in the U.K. and Ireland is expected to add to Netflix's foreign subscriber base, which stood at 7.75 million at the end of its most recent fiscal period. It is expected to add 1.3 million international subs in the third quarter.

Separately, Vudu is offering $2 movie rentals for two nights on select titles.

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