Netflix UK to Offer New ‘Breaking Bad’ Episodes in Very TV-Like Way

/ Jul 26, 2013


The final half-season of Vince Gilligan’s critically acclaimed crime drama “Breaking Bad” returns to AMC in August.

Fans of the show in the UK and Ireland will be able to (legally) watch new episodes the day after they air on American television — a rarity for British viewers who are accustomed to having to wait for new American programming. Here’s the interesting thing: thanks to a deal with Sony Pictures Television, each new episode will be available exclusively on Netflix — the company currently trying really hard to compete with cable networks.

It’s easy to see why Netflix would lock up a first-run deal for the series in the British market.

“Netflix has been instrumental in making ‘Breaking Bad’ the success that it is — particularly in the UK and Ireland, where it has built an audience and become a huge phenomenon,” said show creator Vince Gilligan in today’s announcement. You can take some of that as everyday PR-speak, but there is also some truth to it. Netflix has gone on the record in the past about about how AMC’s programming is some of the most popular stuff on its service. Netflix also likes to talk about how the streaming service is able to help build TV viewership by allowing people to catch up to shows like “Breaking Bad,” “Mad Men,” and “The Walking Dead.”

What’s really interesting here, though, is not that Netflix has an exclusive license on a popular TV show; it’s that Netflix is pretty much functioning as a regular TV network in the UK and Ireland, offering a new episode of “Breaking Bad” every week — for eight weeks — beginning Monday, August 12.

Something else to think about: how do we define Netflix original and exclusive programming? The company sees what it does as “internet television.” “Breaking Bad” is television program, delivered in a television-like way, but at least in the UK and Ireland, exclusively through a digital video platform. When we talk about a Netflix original series like “House of Cards” or “Orange Is the New Black,” are we pretty much saying the same thing?

More on this from Liz Miller in a couple of weeks, but until then, if you happen to be reading this in the UK or Ireland, you can watch all prior seasons of “Breaking Bad” on Netflix — that is, if you haven’t caught up already.

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