'Downton Abbey' season premiere breaks PBS records
The two-hour episode is highest rated drama premiere in PBS history
It's been a long time since "Downton Abbey" brought newish episodes to the U.S. (the fourth season has already run back in the U.K.), and fans rejoiced. How many fans? According to PBS, an average of 10.2 million of them tuned in for Sunday's premiere.
How does that compare to the networks? Over on CBS at 9:00 p.m., 9.24 million tuned in for "The Good Wife," 6.69 million watched "Revenge" on ABC, and a clip show of Jimmy Fallon skits brought in 5.73 million eyeballs on NBC. Not bad for an upper crust family and their minions stuck in the 1920s.
The fourth season premiere of "Downton Abbey" even outperformed last season's premiere by 22 percent. Best of all, PBS tied with CBS as the most watched network on Sunday.
“As this captivating drama continues, our audiences have been eagerly awaiting this new season to see what’s next for these beloved characters,” said PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger. “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.”
“I’m delighted to see that the Crawley family’s intrigue continues to beguile our viewers,” said "Masterpiece" executive producer Rebecca Eaton. “Julian Fellowes has written every word of all four seasons of ‘Downton,’ and I toss him a huge bouquet on behalf of his American fans.”
If you missed the episode, never fear -- it's around. The new season will be available for free streaming on PBS station websites, the PBS Video Portal and PBS’ apps on Xbox, Roku and Apple TV for a limited time after each national broadcast.
The show also fired up the Twitterverse. A whoping 2.9 million people sent 97,000 tweets during the premiere evening, generating a total of 15.2 million impressions and making it the #2 telecast, ranked by Unique Audience, across the whole day and excluding sports events.
PBS and "Masterpiece" insiders — as well as moderators from Tom and Lorenzo (@tomandlorenzo), Jarett Wieselman of BuzzFeed (@JarettSays) and special guests including Lesley Nicol (Mrs. Patmore) — will continue to host live discussions during each broadcast to connect directly with fans on social media.
Did you watch the season four premiere?