Ratings were down for the Big 4 networks on Sunday (February 17) night and it appears that PBS' "Downton Abbey" may have contributed to that audience siphoning.
 
PBS announced on Tuesday that the "Downton Abbey" third season finale drew an impressive 8.2 million viewers in its first Sunday airing. That was up from the 7.9 million viewers to tuned in for the "Downton Abbey" premiere in January, which was the last time PBS boasted about ratings for the Emmy-winning drama. 
 
Through its third season, "Downton Abbey" consistently drew an audience four times that of PBS' regular primetime average and outdrew the show's second season average by 66 percent. The show's second season finale drew 5.4 million viewers in February 2012.
 
PBS also brags that "Downton Abbey" was the second most tweeted-about series on television on Sunday, broadcast or cable. And based on twitter reactions and blog comments, it appears that despite months of spoiler-based paranoia, many of the show's devoted fans were unaware of the finale's major plotpoints. 
 
A fourth "Downton Abbey" season -- or "series" -- has been ordered, but no premiere date has been announced.