How is this for a surprise? Everyone knew that “Downton Abbey” would probably draw some great numbers with its season 4 premiere, but who thought that the show would actually draw better figures than every other show on the night not inflated by football? (“The Simpsons” has more viewers at this point, but may be adjusted down in the finals later this week.)
The season 4 premiere on PBS Sunday drew a pretty stellar 10.2 million viewers, which makes it the show’s most-watched episode, and also the biggest drama premiere in the history of the public network. Now, there are a couple of other reasons why this is all the more impressive: PBS is not necessarily around in every market, does not get a ton of advertising, and the show has already been out for months in Britain. That is a lot to be going against a season, but it actually had more viewers here than in its home country.
In a statement touting the success of the Crawley family, PBS president / CEO Paula Kerger had the following to say:
“As this captivating drama continues, our audiences have been eagerly awaiting this new season to see what’s next for these beloved characters. I’m so pleased that millions of viewers have returned to ‘Downton Abbey’ on their local PBS stations for what has become a post-holiday tradition.”
Do we think the numbers will stay this big all season? Probably not, since there is a lot more competition on the way, but this has to be promising for the network’s hopes for “Sherlock” later this month, which could also draw some big numbers. This is really all just further evidence of the success that British TV is having in America, and how we are now in an age where we care about quality so much more than anything else.
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