By David Stewart White
Fans of Downton Abbey don't have long to wait until the new season of the popular television series. But how long viewers wait depends in part upon where they're watching. British fans can see Downton in mid-September; Americans must wait until January 2014.
The show airs on the ITV television network at 9 pm on Sunday, September 15th...probably. As of August 31 ITV has yet to officially announce the date and time of its most popular series. Some fan sites are also reporting that the British premier will be September 22.
But American viewers are face an even more frustrating delay. For the past three seasons, the Public Broadcasting Service has delayed the US premier of the show. PBS refused to budge in the face of pressure from American Downton Abbey fans, citing scheduling, ratings and the opportunity to create a "promotional buzz" by delaying the show. As a result, Americans who want to watch the show on PBS must wait until Sunday, January 5 of next year.
In the internet age, American Downton fans can hardly avoid plot spoilers posted on social media by British viewers who have watched the show months before the US premier. Some go along with the delay, others watch "bootleg" episodes of the show online.
However fans watch, Downton Abbey remains a huge hit as Season 4 of the show gets underway.