'Breaking Bad' secret to success? HDTVs and Netflix

Michael Slovis, cinematographer for the hit AMC series, says services like Netflix allow for binge viewing, which lead to increased ratings.

Don Reisinger
Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Screenshot by CNET

The "Breaking Bad" finale may have come and gone, but the mania surrounding the event was only possible because of technology, said the show's cinematographer Michael Slovis.

One of the first steps to success was HD programming, Slovis told Forbes in a recent wide-ranging interview. With HD technology, more could be delivered to "Breaking Bad" fans, he said, providing more freedom for the story's creator Vince Gilligan.

"It just so happened that during the last seven years, widescreen televisions became affordable," Slovis said. "And HD became the norm. Now people could see what we were doing and we didn't have to tell stories in the old style of closeup [then another] closeup."

Slovis also celebrated the advent of streaming media and DVRs, which allowed the show to grow from a cult favorite to a mainstream success.

"Another hardware development that helped us tremendously is that all of a sudden you could DVR and Netflix the show," he told Forbes. "I don't know the numbers, but there was a period of time where Netflix was proud of the fact that more people had seen 'Breaking Bad' on Netflix than on AMC. We build an audience because they're able to binge view and catch up."

"Breaking Bad" aired its finale Sunday night. The AMC drama series started out as a lesser-known favorite but quickly became a hit after its appearance on Netflix. That the show also benefited greatly from HDTVs, however, was unknown to this point.