Breaking Bad, the hit TV show on AMC starring Bryan Cranston, officially returned last night for the highly anticipated second half of season 5. However, some iTunes users are realizing that the Season Pass they purchased for the first half of the season doesn’t grant them access to the second half.

The discrepancy comes from the fact that AMC has always promoted the fifth season as one season split into two parts. The first 8 episodes aired starting back in July 2012 and appeared on iTunes as “Season 5″. Some users that purchased a season pass then expected that it would include the last half of the season that kicked off last night. Unfortunately, when the second half of the season hit iTunes, it was promoted as “The Final Season” rather than the second half of season 5 and required users to purchase a new season pass for access.

Season-Pass-Breaking-BadApple allows users to buy a “Season Pass” to seasons of TV shows on iTunes and often provides a slight discount versus purchasing individual episodes. To be fair, Apple only charged $21.99 US for the season pass for season 5, which would reflect the typical cost for 8 episodes of new, premium content. In addition, the fine print on iTunes receipts also stated that the season pass for season 5 would only include “episodes airing in 2012.” The real problem here is that it forgot to remove the boiler plate text stating that the season also included all future episodes: “This Season Pass includes all current and future episodes of Breaking Bad, Season 5.”

A reader notes that the season pass for Season 3 of the The Walking Dead included both halves of the season with a long break in between the first and last 8 episodes. An iTunes rep even confirmed that the reader WOULD receive the second half of the season 5 prior to “The Final Season” landing on iTunes, so clearly there is some confusion with how iTunes handles these situations. Some users have even purchased a season pass for “The Final Season” (the second half of “Season 5″ on iTunes) expecting that they’d also get access to the 8 previously aired episodes available in Season 5.

Apple isn’t alone in the move, as Amazon and Xbox offerings are splitting the seasons into two separate purchases as well, but Apple should definitely be doing more to make sure consumers know what they are getting when purchasing a season split into two parts.


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31 Responses to “Breaking Bad season split not going over well with iTunes season pass holders”

  1. John Morton says:

    I’ve been searching this topic most of the morning. I’ll admit that I didn’t read the fine print, but as stated here earlier, Walking Dead was split into halves and we got the whole thing. Coincidently, these are the only two television shows I follow. I’m still going to save in the long run by subscribing to these two shows instead of having a cable subscription, but it left such a bad taste in my mouth that I bought the second half of Breaking Bad Season 5 from Amazon instead of Apple and I may not continue to use iTunes for future television subscriptions feeling deceived by this.


    • get ready for the same on Amazon — as the article stated they did the same exact thing. Xbox too. which should be enough to convince you its AMC who dictated this.

      the good news — THEY ONLY CHARGED YOU HALF-A-SEASON. $22 + $23 = $45, the normal season price for this tier show.


  2. They do it for other seasons all the time. Just recent shows I can think of is Doctor Who Seasons 7 part 1 & 2. I will say Breaking Bad’s season pass looks much cheaper than any season pass I’ve ever paid for. If other places are doing it I would say this on AMC not on Apple and I would start expecting The Walking Dead Season 4 parts 1 & 2 as I’ve seen this growing in popularity.


    • kiskaloo says:

      The US version of Top Gear (as broadcast on The History Channel) also breaks up their iTunes Season Passes into a Part 1 and Part 2.


    • This is a bit different as iTunes & the BBC clearly announced that the season will be split into two parts. You knew what you were buying at the time of purchasing the first pass. This was not the case for Breaking Bad or TRON: Uprising (see my other reply)


  3. Dave Ehrlich says:

    Does anyone know how promptly episodes are able to view after broadcast if you’ve purchased a Season Pass in iTunes? Night of broadcast or the following day?


  4. Blame AMC not the iTunes store. Granted, Apple should have corrected the text about the season pass but otherwise this is a decision that comes from the “content producers” not Apple.


  5. Actually, that’s not the first time that the iTunes Store did that. It happens to “TRON: Uprising” as well.

    At the beginning of the tv show, they sold a “season 01″ pass but when it got extended behind the first 10 episodes, they decided to call the second part of the season “Volume 2″ and renamed the first 10 episodes as “Volume 1″. As you can see in the comments there (, a lot of people (including myself) were not happy with the more. I did not purchased Volume 2 and waited for it to appear in Netflix.

    I’m ways more caution now when I buy a season pass: i’m buying individual episodes and wait for discounted season passes or until the sum of the episodes I bough is close to the pass cost.


  6. Oskar Burger says:

    Thanks for actually simply covering this in a clear and succinct manner. I was amazed at how little attention this got.(yes, I was definitely under the impression that my season 5 included the whole season. i could swear i read that it would. .. bastards).


  7. Oskar Burger says:

    Ah! but its still not there. last time they were there frist thing monday morning. In fact, an itunes search on “blood money” doesn’t even bring up anything related to breaking bad.


  8. zrogers5 says:

    Can someone get a class action lawsuit together? I don’t care about how AMC/Amazon/etc. are handling this. It’s irrelevant really. I made an agreement to buy my Breaking Bad Season 5 content from Apple and I expect more from the company as a long time customer.


    • you need to care — it’s the content providers (AMC) who set the distribution structure. amazon is just an end-point retailer.


    • interface22 says:

      In Australia, our current consumer laws place the blame of non-fulfilment of reasonable customer expectations with the retailer, in this case that’s iTunes and no other company. Customers who purchased a season 5 pass PAID IN FULL and should get what they signed up for. I’ve contacted our consumer watchdog ACCC and await news of a class action. (Not holding my breath!) Cheers.


  9. Apple sucks, pulled a fast one, I will NOT be purchasing the second half, I will download it off the internet,
    to hell with Apple and never will buy another itunes ever


  10. Like Apple has anything to do with this. It’s the greedy content providers. Apple’s like a waiter. They just bring the food to the table, they don’t cook it.


  11. So if I bought this today, does it grant me 2012’s episodes, as well as the rest of the season for 2013 for 22.99?


  12. Apple doesn’t decide whether a split like this happens. iTunes acts as a distribution point, not a curator. It is entirely up to the content creator how it is split and I imagine in a lot of cases what the price is.


  13. zrogers5 says:

    I’m starting to see comments in the thread claiming it wasn’t Apple’s fault. That’s bull. Apple is totally responsible for how they list/divide up the content they provide, for the prices they charge, and how they choose to handle bait-and-switch business practices (if it even turns out to be an AMC-only decision to relabel the second half of season 5 as “The Final Season”). Luckily I bought season 5 with my credit card, so disputing the charge is the only real recourse I have in this case. Never buying from the iTunes store again. Never buying season passes upfront from any provider again. Lessons learned!


    • since Amazon is doing the same exact thing that will leave you with slim pickins.

      i imagine youll change course.


      • zrogers5 says:

        Q: The user “mdelvecchio99″ is an: a) Apple employee, b) AAPL stockholder, c) Amazon-hater, d) AMC-hater, d) blind Apple fanboy/girl, e) all of the above.

        A: ?

        There will be no change of course for me and thousands of others. Ever heard of BitTorrent? In this particular case there is no copyright infringement for those users that already bought all of season 5 through iTunes last year. This year paying customers were taken advantage of with a bait-and-switch scam, simple as that. Again, a class-action lawsuit is one of the best ways we have to get large companies to admit wrongdoing and to protect consumers. Anyone want to take the lead?

        p.s. Saw the latest BB episode last night, and to confirm, it’s episode 9 of season 5, not episode 1 of season 6.


  14. I bought it off Amazon, the season pass. I don’t remember it being so cheap, the first half. Are you sure that’s what people paid for it off Amazon, 21.99?


  15. Brian Skoog says:

    Come on. Look at the price. The price for normal season passes is around three dollars per episode with a dollar or two savings. When they called those first eight episodes “Season Five,” I assumed that the final eight would be “Season Six.” They are calling them “The Final Season” instead, but I never expected to get 16 episodes for 22-23 dollars.


  16. My beef is if they always planned to split it, it should have been described that way when I bought my Season 5 season pass last year. For the record, my receipt just said it was for a Season 5 season pass. It made no mention a year ago, as this article states, that it was for 2012 episodes only.

    I did contact Apple support and they did agree that I was short changed. They gave me 8 credits to download any future episodes of any show in the future. I can use them for the final 8 of season 5 (like I paid for). What is doesn’t do is let me download the extras that come with each episode.

    I am in the camp that this is AMCs fault and they should man up and authorize all purchasers of season 5 last year to be able to download the rest of season 5 in what now is called the Final Season.

    In the Nerdist podcast last week, Vince Gilligan called the first 8 of season 5 “Season 5A to satisfy the lawyers.” Clearly, this is new language that AMC is asking its show runner to now use.

    It should have been called Season 5A last year when we bought it. Calling it Season 5 means we should get all 16 episodes.

    As for the price argument, when I bought last year, both Season 5 and Season 2 had prices within a few bucks and season 2 is for 13 episodes, closer to the 16 of Season 5 than the 8 of Season 5A.


  17. If you, like me, bought Season 5 thinking you would get all of season five – silly us! – check out the “inside breaking Bad: Episode 508.” Gilligan says right there on camera,”What kind of ending is this for the first half of the season?” Season, singular. Also, names last night’s episode as 509. iTunes did not make this decision until after we ponied up. It’s false advertising.


  18. Lacy Lacy says:

    Lol if you are stupid enough to buy the show and throw a fit over a negligible amount of money, you deserve the frustration and if you are rich enough, you won’t care. I feel that they should of called the 2nd half of season 5 season 6 instead but they can do whatever they want, it’s fully the customers fault. Don’t whine about it because of your own stupidity and self entitilment.


    • interface22 says:

      You’ve totally missed the point Lacy Lacy! This whole issue is about ethical principles – legal precedents being set whereby, through labelling gymnastics, the retailers WIN and customers LOSE. Customers aren’t stupid; we have hard-won consumer rights and we should use them. Fair go. Cheers.


  19. Apple through its iTunes service, is in conflict with the rights of consumers under Australian Law.

    The nature of the purchase agreement with iTunes does not involve any other person or company other than (we the consumer as) the purchaser and Apple as the vendor.

    Apple has buckled to the opportunistic and greedy behaviour of the distributor of the television series ‘Breaking Bad’ – Apple has in fact demonstrated that its relationship with this supplier is more important than its relationships with its customers. Is this true Tim?

    Apple suggests and I quote:
    “Season Passes are managed or sold by the TV network and iTunes can only provide the episodes and sell them the way the TV network wants them sold. There is a binding contract with the TV network to provide the content on the iTunes Store.”

    This is irrelevant… Why?

    While the law in Australia defers to the principle of caveat emptor – let the buyer beware – it was well established and widely publicised that Season 5 of ‘Breaking Bad’ was to be the final season. An expectation was established in the wider community that by purchasing a season pass to this final season through iTunes, access would be provided to the entire Season 5, not just the first eight episodes.

    The consumer public is not a party to Apple’s contractual agreement with the series distributor, just as the series distributor is not a party to the contractual agreement between (we the) consumer and Apple. Legally one has no effect on the other.

    Apple cannot lay the blame at the feet of its supplier.

    My same argument presented differently – to supply content, Apple has *separate* contractual agreements with the purchaser of content and the supplier of content, but no legal connection is made between the purchaser and supplier – one has no effect on the other.

    Apple through its iTunes service is in breach of Australian consumer law.

    My own personal fine print… while I acknowledge some online comments state that the season was always to be split over two parts, I was not aware of this, despite reading numerous articles in the lead up to the release of Season Five.


  20. Brad Shuler says:

    I bought the “Season 5 package” (first half) so I could catch up and rewatch the first 8. Of course, 2 days later Netflix posts Season 5, episodes 108.