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Finale audience for ‘Breaking Bad’ tops 10 million

Backed by near-unanimous critical praise, insistent social media conversation and intense coverage on every form of talk show, “Breaking Bad” soared to its highest ratings ever — and one of the top ratings all time for a drama on cable television — in its finale Sunday night on AMC.

The final episode reached 10.3 million viewers in its first airing, at 9 p.m., despite ferocious competition elsewhere on television. That was an enormous increase from the show’s previous high, 6.6 million viewers a week ago.

The finale also scored a powerhouse number in the audience that advertisers pay most to reach — in this case a reported cable record of $400,000 for each commercial — with 6.7 million viewers in the audience between 18 and 49 years old.

This performance also lifted the talk show that immediately followed it, “Talking Bad,” which featured interviews with the cast and the show’s creator, Vince Gilligan. A total of 4.4 million viewers watched, with 2.7 million in the 18-49 group, eclipsing the drama competition on CBS and ABC at that hour.

The only other cable drama to attract more viewers for its finale was “The Sopranos” on HBO, which totaled 11.9 million. But “The Sopranos” always had big ratings numbers. “Breaking Bad” was truly a late finisher, growing every year, especially over its last 16 episodes, driven largely by so-called “binge viewing” as fans caught up with the series by streaming on Netflix or by playing DVDs.

—Bill Carter, The New York Times

New poll shows major shift in identity of Jews in US

The first major survey of American Jews in more than 10 years finds a significant rise in those who are not religious, marry outside the faith and are not raising their children Jewish — resulting in rapid assimilation that is sweeping through every branch of Judaism except the Orthodox.

The intermarriage rate has reached a high of 58 percent for all Jews, and 71 percent for non-Orthodox Jews — a huge change from before 1970 when only 17 percent of Jews married outside the faith. Two-thirds of Jews do not belong to a synagogue, one-fourth do not believe in God and one-third had a Christmas tree in their home last year.

“It’s a very grim portrait of the health of the American Jewish population in terms of their Jewish identification,” said Jack Wertheimer, a professor of American Jewish history at the Jewish Theological Seminary, in New York.

The survey, by the Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project, found that despite the declines in religious identity and participation, American Jews say they are proud to be Jewish and have a “strong sense of belonging to the Jewish people.”

While 69 percent say they feel an emotional attachment to Israel, and 40 percent believe the land that is now Israel was “given to the Jewish people by God,” only 17 percent think that the continued building of settlements in the West Bank is helpful to Israel’s security.

The survey estimates there are 5.3 million Jewish adults as well as 1.3 million children being raised at least partly Jewish.

Steven M. Cohen, a sociologist of American Jewry at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, in New York, and a paid consultant on the poll, said the report foretold “a sharply declining non-Orthodox population in the second half of the 21st century, and a rising fraction of Jews who are Orthodox.”

The survey also portends “growing polarization” between religious and nonreligious Jews, said Laurence Kotler-Berkowitz, senior director of research and analysis at the Jewish Federations of North America.

The 3,475 respondents were interviewed in English and Russian. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

—Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times

Company that created ‘Candy Crush’ files for public offering

The game maker King has conquered the mobile gaming world from its home base in London. Now, King, the company that created “Candy Crush Saga,” has its eyes set on becoming a top technology initial public offering — across the Atlantic Ocean.

The company has filed for a public offering in the United States, according to people briefed on the matter, in what promises to be one of the biggest debuts by a gaming company in over a year. It has also retained Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse and JPMorgan Chase to lead the offering, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the listing process is being done in secret. A spokeswoman for King declined to comment.

King joins the growing list of technology companies seeking to go public, in what investors and dealmakers hope will signal a revival amid a slump in the sector. That potential wave is being led by Twitter, whose impending stock sale is one of the most highly anticipated since that of Facebook last year.

An offering by King, at what some analysts estimate will be a multibillion-dollar valuation, would be the latest triumph for the company. “Candy Crush Saga,” its signature app, has become one of the most popular apps on Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems. It is also the highest-grossing game on both operating systems, according to data firms like App Annie.

King may still have to overcome skepticism about the last gaming company to make a highly public offering, Zynga. After its much-ballyhooed market debut in December 2011, Zynga has struggled amid declining popularity, employee layoffs and costly missteps like the nearly $200 million purchase of OMGPOP, a game maker that the company has since shut down.

Zynga shares closed Friday at $3.78 each, down 62 percent from their initial offering price.

King is hoping to avoid that fate, with an expected emphasis on its strength in mobile devices. Founded by a group of entrepreneurs in 2003, the company had grown largely through games that ran on its website. It now offers 150 games in 14 languages on its site, Facebook and mobile devices. It maintains offices in five cities aside from London, including San Francisco and Barcelona.

—Michael J. De La Merced, The New York Times