Despite concerns that piracy might dampen ratings, "Downton Abbey" scored huge numbers in its third season return to PBS.
 
Sunday (January 6) night's two-hour premiere drew a whopping 7.9 million viewers for PBS, quadrupling PBS' average primetime ratings and improving on last season's premiere by 96 percent.
 
In its 9 to 11 p.m. initial airing, "Downton Abbey" made PBS the second most watched broadcast network on Sunday night, behind only CBS. Seattle, Boston, Austin and New York delivered the biggest local numbers.
 
"'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," blurbs PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger. "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."
 
The third season of "Downton Abbey" premiered Across The Pond in mid-September and many observers wondered if rampant torrenting of the Emmy-winning drama might hurt its American audience. An equal number of observers, though, suggested that PBS' audience isn't exactly the audience most likely to be torrenting. 
 
"The well-loved characters that made Season 2 the most-watched series in 'Masterpiece' history continue to delight us," states 'Masterpiece' executive producer Rebecca Eaton. "I’m thrilled to see so many viewers return to the Crawley family’s delicious drama and intrigue."