Even though “Downton Abbey” may seem to be more popular than ever, there is one place that this is not reflected at the moment: the ratings for the show’s third-season Christmas special this week. While the show did a pretty solid job of keeping up the pace with season 2 earlier this year, the numbers posted earlier this week are down a pretty wide margin from where they were back in 2012. (Warning: the following contains spoilers for American readers.)
So what exactly happened? We’ll get to that in a second, but first let’s talk about the concrete date. Overall, the ITV series scored 6.8 million viewers on the night, which was the seventh-largest audience on a day traditionally popular in Great Britain with many families watching TV after a holiday dinner. Ironically, it may have been families keeping the telly off that led to the show falling from the figure of 8.1 million viewers that it was at for the season 2 show.
As for a number of other possible theories for the ratings drop, it’s easy to speculate: could the rumors surrounding Dan Stevens’ exit have turned people away? Stevens’ Matthew died during the closing minutes of the finale, and this controversial move (brought out by the actor himself) could lead to lower viewing figures moving forward. In addition to that, we could simply be seeing a response to viewers complaining over the large amount of commercials in the episode; though ironically, having around 30 minutes of a two-hour broadcast be commercials is actually a better ratio than for most shows in America. (It’s still pretty high by British standards.)
Ultimately, we don’t really see the numbers yet as a sign that people are tuning out of “Downton Abbey.” In North America, the show has never been more popular, and it continues to find fans on a minute-by-minute basis.
If you want to read our full review of the Christmas special, you can do so over at the link here.