More than 10 million people watched the series finale of Breaking Bad live on AMC. That's 7.5 million more than the end of Season 5 Part I brought in. Plus, the figure doesn't include all of the people who watched it on DVR later or the 500,000-some folks who downloaded the episode before the end of September.
Recently, Vince Gilligan spoke with the BBC as a part of Newsbeat's investigation into copyright. The Breaking Bad creator—who has previously mentioned that the Netflix distribution of his show helped its popularity tremendously—said that illegal downloads significantly helped to raise the profile of the show as it progressed.
"[It] led to a lot of people watching the series who otherwise would not have.
"The downside is a lot of folks who worked on the show would have made more money, myself included, if all those downloads had been legal." [BBC]