'Breaking Bad' star Bryan Cranston attends The Film Society of Lincoln Center and AMC celebration of the hit TV show's final season on July 31, 2013 in New York City.
Credit: Neilson Barnard

Nearly 6 million people tuned in to watch the start of the final season of “Breaking Bad” on Sunday night, setting a new ratings record for the AMC television drama about a chemistry teacher turned meth cook and drug dealer.

Preliminary Nielsen ratings released by AMC this week showed the drama attracted 5.9 million viewers – nearly four times the number of people who watched “Breaking Bad’s” first episode five seasons ago and double the audience for the previous season’s opening episode.

The ratings success of “Breaking Bad” is a credit to the patience of the folks at AMC.

Unlike “Mad Men,” which became a hot topic of discussion around the office water cooler within the first season, “Breaking Bad” has needed several seasons to draw that kind of recognition.

“Luckily, because “Breaking Bad” is on AMC, a network happy with the show’s critical acclaim and solid-enough performance, it had the time to foster the audience it deserves -- a luxury many dramas, especially network ones, don’t have these days,” the Slate’s Willa Paskin wrote.

AMC is reaping the benefits.

Advertisers have been falling over themselves to secure slots in the final series, Adweek reported.

A 30-second slot cost an estimated $56,000 a year ago, and Adweek believes it is likely to be worth much, much more now.

More from GlobalPost: 'Breaking Bad's' Aaron Paul on Last Script Read: 'Moment We'd Been Dreading'

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