‘Downton Abbey’ Premiere Draws Record 10.2 Million Viewers

Downton Abbey Season Four Premiere

It's outdraws all scripted Sunday programs and is the biggest ratings performance ever for PBS

The fourth season of PBS Masterpiece’s “Downton Abbey” drew a record 10.2 million viewers on Sunday, making it the night’s most-watched scripted program.

Already the pubcaster’s most popular drama of all time, “Downton Abbey” outdrew the show’s third-season premiere in January of 2013 (7.9 million) by 29% and topped last year’s finale (8.2 million) by 24%, according to preliminary Nielsen estimates.

During its third season, “Downton Abbey,” a Carnival/MASTERPIECE co-production, consistently drew an audience more than four times the PBS primetime average.

On Sunday, its 10.2 million made it a bigger draw than CBS dramas “The Mentalist” (9.9 million) and “The Good Wife” (9.2 million) as well as ABC’s “Revenge” (6.7 million).

A January premiere Stateside for “Downton” is typical for the cross-the-pond hit, but has become increasingly controversial because of spoilers coming over from the U.K., where each season launches the previous fall.

In its first full season following the departures of series regulars Dan Stevens, Jessica Brown Findlay and Siobhan Finneran, “Downton Abbey” is joined by recurring guest Shirley MacLaine and newly appearing thesps Tom Cullen, Nigel Harman, Harriet Walter, Joanna David, Julian Ovendon, Kiri Te Kanawa and Gary Carr.

They team with principal returning castmembers Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery, Jim Carter, Joanne Froggatt and Brendan Coyle.

“Downton Abbey” is running eight weeks on PBS this winter, with its finale set for Feb. 23.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 6

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Hmmm, Downton Abbey. I almost need to see it again to find out what really bothered me about it. I think it’s very hard to maintain standards after a certain point, be it a television series, a film or a book.
    Julian Fellowes had no other option but to kill off Matthew since the latter wanted out of the series; and I surmise failure to reach a contract agreement with “O”Brien” saw her shuffled off to India with cousin Susan (It begs the question, though, why would Susan, such a stickler for rules, whose daughter’s well-being abides in Lord and Lady G’s hospitality, bite the hands that feed her, by stealing Cora’s maid? Me thinks not!) And while I don’t think Thomas has been converted, after nearly going down in flames, to a life of good deeds, I find it abhorrent – and inexplicable – that he would turn on Bates and Anna and implicate Anna in a web of lies based on jealousy; all this after Bates saved Thomas’ bacon by merely saying to O’Brien the phrase, “bar of soap,” suggesting Bates knew more about O’Brien’s treachery than he really did, but thereby forcing O’Brien to renege on her nasty comments about Thomas, and restoring him to staff! Besides, Fellowes should pick on somebody else; Bates and Anna have had enough trials and tribulations to last the series.

    And while I’m fault-finding, I think Fellowes took the low road in restoring Edna as Cora’s lady’s maid. Considering she was already sacked once, why would Edna so quickly fall into league with the devil, aka Thomas? I think Fellowes asks a lot of his audience to suspend so much belief in such a short time. Might be accepted, even expected, in the afternoon soaps, but it doesn’t work here. I thought Fellowes made Lord G. more pigheaded than necessary, but maybe his plot lines run thin. Thank heaven for the Countess Dowager’s wiliness; I fairly wanted to reach through my SmartScreen TV and smack Robert silly, he who months earlier, had sung the almost-bankrupt Shrimpie’s praises (“It’s good to see the old ways being maintained!”) as a Piper pranced around the laird’s Highland dining room.

    It was silly, not poignant, to see the “Two Charlies” make peace, burying the hatchet over one of them stealing the other Charlie’s girl (Carson’s) some four decades earlier. Now that Mrs. Hughes has confirmed Mr. Carson, like the Lion in “The Wizard of Oz,” has a heart after all, I guess we can anticipate their settling into a joint 401K rollover and living happily ever after in some forgotten tower of Downton Abbey when the time comes to retire them. As for Lady Edith, well, the poor girl has neither the looks nor the lines to make her a series favorite, but Fellowes needs her as a foil to Lady Mary, so her position is secure. The violet coat Lady Mary was last seen adorning her pale thin shoulders, suggests she won’t be following in Queen’ Victoria’s 40 years of mourning after the monarch’s husband died – and a good thing, too, it is for the series! The sooner we can bring on the suitors, the sooner series 4 can be said to be a success. Of course, if all the players would just straighten up, fly right and listen to the lone voice of reason crying in the estate’s woods – that of Estate Manager and Grantham son-in-law, the former Irish firebrand,Tom Branson – the sooner we could have a happy ending. Thank goodness, creator-writer, Julian Fellowes, will have none of that

  2. David Guirao Tatlitug says:

    The number of episodes that are made is so disappointing. The British don’t know what a season is. To have a month and a half of a show with a year in between is just frustrating. With this type of viewership you would think they would ramp up production.

    • Smooth says:

      Why should the British care about what america calls a season? The world don’t operate by american standards, get over yourself and travel more.

  3. Tania says:

    Don’t get the popularity, but to each his/her own. I stopped watching soap operas, daytime dramas or whatever you want to call them a long time ago.

  4. Kenneth Case says:

    My favorite PBS show, haven’t enjoyed anything this much since “Tales of the City” by Amested Maupin.

More TV News from Variety