The numbers are in for Sunday night’s extended airing on PBS, and they are beyond impressive. As a matter of fact, its total of 7.9 million viewers is quadruple that of what the publicly-funded network traditionally receives for its primetime programming, and it is also a massive increase of the 4.2 million people who caught the show last year. An aggressive marketing push surely helped the show succeed this year, as did the fast that the show is just so high-quality that it fascinates even people who previously had no desire at all to watch British television.
In a statement, PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger said the following about the big news:
“’Downton Abbey’ continues to enthrall audiences nationwide, and this season is especially riveting with the addition of Shirley MacLaine to the cast and the lively interaction between her and Maggie Smith. I’m so pleased that audiences have returned to ‘Downton Abbey’ on their local stations to continue to enjoy some of the best drama on television.”
In other remarkable news, “Downton Abbey” actually had the second-highest total viewership of any network on the night, with the exception of CBS. Just in case you are wondering why we don’t have any information on the 18-49 demographic (as we usually do), the answer is simple: PBS does not really bother as much with this, since they do not have any advertisers to report back to that care about this sort of thing.
Once again, this is really just proof that viewers are continuing to move beyond networks for great programming, and it doesn’t matter if it is cable or something a little forgotten from time to time in PBS.
If you want to read our full review of the “Downton Abbey” premiere, you can do so over here.