I will make admission: the boyfriend and I are Downton Abbey addicts and had bought tickets to a Downton Abbey costume fundraiser for the our local PBS station but for the event being rescheduled due to bad weather last October (it was rescheduled to the day we sailed on our cruise last October). As a history major with an emphasis in British and Russian history, the boyfriend teases me that I am an encyclopedia on trivia as we watch the show. Happily, the series is doing well and the last season set new records for PBS, a constant target of anti-arts funding Republicans. A piece in The Daily Beast looks at the show's success. Here are excerpts:
24 million viewers tuned in to watch the third season of Downton Abbey.
Just think about that for a second: 24 million viewers. In an age of increasingly fragmented television viewing, those numbers are even more staggering when you compare those figures next to say, a recent episode of NBC's Smash, which garnered roughly a tenth of that audience. Those numbers are huge for broadcast and cable, but considering that they're associated with a costume drama airing on a public broadcaster, even the Dowager Countess might choke on her tea upon seeing them.
In fact, Season 3 of Downton Abbey, which wrapped up its run last month, broke all records among households, according to finalized national ratings obtained from PBS, making Downton the highest-rated PBS drama of all time.
The third season of the British costume drama—which airs Stateside as part of Masterpiece Classic—had a season average rating of 7.7 and an average audience of 11.5 million across the seven week run. Compared to the second season, those ratings are up a stunning 64 and 65 percent respectively.
In fact, the controversial third season finale of Downton, which aired on February 17, was the highest-rated show on any network that night, posting a 8.1 national rating and an average audience of 12.3 million, numbers that placed it well above any other show on broadcast or cable that evening.
As for whether the future ratings of Season 4 of Downton Abbey will be influenced by the departure of Dan Stevens (and the death of Matthew Crawley), Eaton was decidedly upbeat. "I think there's still plenty of romance and intrigue to go around in Season 4,” she wrote. “All of Downton springs from the fertile imagination of Julian Fellowes, and he is in fine writing fettle."
Having missed the fundraiser last October, I may just wear my Downton Abbey attire to the Equality Virginia Commonwealth Dinner on April 6th.