Last week, we looked at how Breaking Bad stayed alive and then thrived because of viewers watching episodes after the original run on AMC. Availability on Netflix and iTunes and other places grew the audience, leading into the finale this past Sunday, with 10 million-plus viewers.

This week, Variety posted an update and handy breakdown of how ABC’s Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. premiere did, by the numbers. From Variety/Nielsen:

After bowing with 12.1 million viewers in Nielsen’s “live plus same-day” estimates, “SHIELD” gained about 3.7 million viewers via DVR time-shifting and video-on-demand from Wednesday through Friday. An on-air repeat Thursday night added 4.7 million, and roughly 1.6 million watched online, including Hulu — bringing the show’s total through Sunday to roughly 22.1 million.

So, that’s 1.6 million people watching the premiere online. It’s not quite 10% of the total, but it’s also a number that, unlike on-TV numbers, is going to grow indefinitely. If those viewers like the show, they’ll probably start watching live episodes on TV. They may even recommend it to friends. And the show would then shore up its audience base.

Not a bad deal.

It blows my mind that any network or show wouldn’t have their pilot available for free, online, forever. If it’s free and out there, viewers may find it, and they may love it, and they may support subsequent episodes from then on.

Regardless, 1.6m people watching the S.H.I.E.L.D. premiere online (I watched it on Hulu) is yet another example of the changing way shows are watched, with the television set becoming one of many distribution channels, instead of the prime provider.