NEW YORK (AP) - The AMC network and producers of its popular "Breaking Bad" series about a chemistry teacher gone bad have agreed on making a fifth and final season of the show.
Production on the final, 16-episode run will begin early next year and hasn't been scheduled for air.
Negotiations with series maker Sony Television had reportedly been tense, with Sony even contacting other networks to see if they'd be interested in picking up the show if AMC bowed out. The cable network, with another costly and popular series in "Mad Men," was looking to keep expenses down and had been seeking a shorter run of episodes.
Producers may have gained leverage with the strong performance of the series in its fourth season this summer. The season debut on July 18 had the series' highest ratings ever, and overall "Breaking Bad" has 28 percent more viewers this season than it had the last, the Nielsen Co. said.
Actor Bryan Cranston has won three Emmy Awards for his portrayal of lead character Walter White, who uses his chemistry knowledge to become a drug kingpin after receiving a cancer diagnosis.
"This is a great gift to me and my wonderful writers," said Vince Gilligan, series creator. "It's knowledge which will allow us to build our story to a satisfying conclusion. Now, if we don't manage to pull that off, we've got no one to blame but ourselves."
The series premiered in January 2008.