Hoping to replicate the success it's had with Breaking Bad, AMC has decided to split the last season of Mad Men in two, pushing the series finale to 2015. The first seven episodes, titled "The Beginning," will air in spring 2014, with the remaining seven, "The End of an Era," debuting the following spring.
"This approach has worked well for many programs across multiple networks, and, most recently for us with Breaking Bad,which attracted nearly double the number of viewers to its second half premiere than had watched any previous episode," AMC President Charlie Collier said in a statement. "We are determined to bring Mad Men a similar showcase. In an era where high-end content is savored and analyzed, and catch-up time is used well to drive back to live events, we believe this is the best way to release the now 14 episodes than remain of this iconic series."
The Aug. 11 return of Breaking Bad drew 5.9 million viewers, marking what was then a series high and a 102-percent increase from the Season 5 premiere the previous year (this week's episode "Ozymandias" broke that record with 6.4 million viewers).
Although the delay of Mad Men's conclusion will undoubtedly frustrate devotees of the drama, The New York Times notes AMC really needs the breathing room: With Breaking Bad ending in two weeks and Mad Men originally scheduled to wrap in the spring, the network would have been left with just one certifiable hit -- The Walking Dead. That's undoubtedly on the minds of executives, who earlier this week announced plans for a spinoff of the ratings juggernaut, scheduled to premiere in 2015. And don't forget a Breaking Bad prequel, tentatively titled Better Call Saul, is also in the works.