Breaking Bad Creator: Illegal Downloading Raised Brand Awareness

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The season finale of Breaking Bad ignited passions lat month when it clocked up half a million unauthorized downloads in just 12 hours. Now the creator of the show has been speaking out, noting that while ultimately piracy is a problem, it's one that has helped the show become more popular with fans. That would certainly be a good estimate, since news figures from TorrentFreak point to a huge three million downloads of the season finale.

As one of the most popular shows around, the finale of Breaking Bad was always destined to become a sensation, both off and online.

That eventuality was realized at the end of last month when half a million people grabbed a copy of the show from BitTorrent networks within half a day of its United States premiere.

We can now confirm that the latest figures gathered by TorrentFreak point to an amazing three million downloads of the final show. This means that the Breaking Bad finale has already clocked up more downloads so far in 2013 than any episode last year when it placed 5th in the 2012 edition of our Top Downloaded TV Shows chart.

While many will consider this to be a dubious honor, does it necessarily follow that millions of illicit downloads have been bad for the show? Speaking with the BBC, show creator Vince Gilligan says that while piracy on the Internet is “ultimately a problem” there are also positives to consider.

“I see that there are two sides to this coin. If i’m being honest I see that the illegal downloading led to a lot of people watching the series, becoming aware of the series who otherwise would not have been,” he said.

“I see that in some ways illegal downloading has helped us, certainly in terms of brand awareness, so that’s a good side.”

The 46-year-old, who wrote more than two dozen episodes of the X-Files, also acknowledged there are negatives. If all illegal downloads had been legal ones, it would’ve meant more money in the bank for those involved with Breaking Bad.

“The downside is that a lot of folks who worked on the show would’ve made more money, myself included. But you know, like with most things, there’s two sides to the coin,” he said.

“We all need to eat, we all need to get paid, and I get paid very well, I can’t complain.”

The confession that unauthorized downloading can be good for TV shows is something that has been accepted more this year than any other.

Game of Thrones director David Petrarca previously admitted that piracy generated much-needed “cultural buzz” around his show.

Jeff Bewkes, CEO of HBO’s parent company Time Warner, went even further, stating that piracy resulted in more subscriptions for his company and receiving the title of “most-pirated” was “better than an Emmy.”

If Breaking Bad follows the Game of Thrones pattern suggested by Bewkes, Vince Gilligan might get that extra money he doesn’t need sooner than he thinks.


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