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Why the 'Breaking Bad' movie hit Netflix before AMC

·Senior Reporter
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After much anticipation, “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie” officially dropped on Netflix (NFLX) Friday at midnight.

Secretly shot over 50 days, “El Camino” picks up right where the hit cable drama “Breaking Bad” left off six years ago. Yet there’s a reason why the beloved series made its theatrical debut on Netflix and not the network where it first aired over a decade ago.

The show’s special relationship with Netflix began after its first three seasons, when the show was at a critical crossroads. At the time AMC reportedly told creator Vince Gilligan that the series could end prematurely due to a lack of viewership — despite its critical acclaim.

Enter Netflix.

Fans praise 'El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie' (Courtesy: @sapphiremoon01 / Twitter)
Fans praise 'El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie' (Courtesy: @sapphiremoon01 / Twitter)

After streaming on the platform for one year, ‘Breaking Bad’ saw its season 5 premiere viewership more than double from the season prior — with Variety reporting 5.9 million viewers tuned in to watch. The show garnered over 10 million viewers by the end of the series.

"We felt that it was a virtuous cycle where we were introducing the show to new fans, who were then going and experiencing new episodes on AMC,” Netflix VP of original content Cindy Holland told The Hollywood Reporter.

The Netflix partnership became a full circle moment for Gilligan, who credits the platform with elevating ‘Breaking Bad’ to the cultural phenomenon it is today.

The movie will also air on AMC in early 2020 — a nod to the network that picked up the series after FX had passed. It will also run in independent theaters across the country on October 11 to October 13.

And although “Breaking Bad” was the first cable show to take advantage of the so-called Netflix boom — other, more recent series echo a similar tale.

Fan-favorite “You” rebounded from a struggling series on Lifetime to one of the top Netflix shows in 2018. Meanwhile, the CW’s “Riverdale” jumped in ratings for season 2, after placing its first season on the platform.

Netflix earnings preview

“El Camino” comes ahead of the platform’s quarterly earnings results on October 16. Netflix is expected to post earnings per share of $1.25 on revenue of $5.3 billion, according to analysts polled by Bloomberg.

Investors will closely watch the platform’s subscriber growth number, especially after last quarter’s disappointing results where the streaming giant saw a loss of 126,000 subscribers, sharply missing the 309,240 gain that was expected.

Netflix has never missed subscriber guidance two quarters in a row, so the pressure is on for the platform to outperform as competitors like Apple TV Plus (AAPL) and Disney Plus (DIS) gear up for November launches.

Alexandra Canal is a Producer at Yahoo Finance.

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