Season three of ‘Downton Abbey’ premiered on Jan. 6 and PBS executives and fans are equally thrilled with its huge ratings success. A whopping 7.9 viewers tuned in for the highly anticipated premiere of the Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning series. Season three's debut topped season two by an astonishing 96%, meaning America’s love affair with “Downton Abbey” is hotter and stronger than ever. On Jan. 7, PBS executives and fans across the country responded to the ratings hit.
“’Downton Abbey’ continues to enthrall audiences nationwide, and this season is especially riveting with the addition of Shirley MacLaine to the cast and the lively interaction between her and Maggie Smith,” PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger said on Monday. “I’m so pleased that audiences have returned to ‘Downton Abbey’ on their local stations to continue to enjoy some of the best drama on television.”
KCTS in Seattle, WGBH in Boston, KLRU in Austin, and WNET in New York posted the biggest local market ratings for PBS member stations across the country.
Masterpiece Executive Producer Rebecca Eaton also responded to the ratings success of “Downton Abbey” and added, “The well-loved characters that made season two the most-watched series in Masterpiece history continue to delight us. I’m thrilled to see so many viewers return to the Crawley family’s delicious drama and intrigue.”
The new season, which rejoins the story as the Great War is over and the long-awaited engagement of Lady Mary and Matthew is on, will be available on the PBS Video Portal after each national broadcast for a limited time (watch the season premiere here).
Fans continue to engage with the show and each other on Twitter. According to SocialGuide Intelligence, the conversation for "Downton Abbey" garnered nearly 100,000 tweets on Sunday evening. In addition, since January 1, there have been more than 20,500 individual check-ins to “Downton Abbey” using the GetGlue entertainment social network, with a social media reach of more than 8.5 million people.
On Jan. 8, Twitter was still a buzz with positive fan feedback about the season three premiere of “Downton Abbey” on PBS. Below are a few fan tweets from Tuesday.
- “An undercooked ham? Downton Abbey has gone insane this season!” – Nicholas Mandernach
- “Don’t judge me but I am so into Downton Abbey you don’t even know it.” – Jon McLaughlin
- “I have just discovered that it is Downton Abbey and not Downtown Abbey. No wonder they were saying it weird all this time.” – Scott C.
- “Watched Downton Abbey and loved!” – Hoda Kotb from “Today”
- “Downton Abbey season premiere review: A rich, dense fruitcake with occasional creepy-Crawleys.” – Entertainment Weekly
- “Thanks to Downton Abbey, I finally understand the meaning of the words, 'Don’t bother me, I’m watching my stories.’” – Frank Conni
To engage viewers in the series’ premiere, more than 110 local PBS stations hosted premiere screenings in December and January, collectively drawing more than 30,000 fans. Stations from New Hampshire to Hawaii created events ranging from high teas to history lectures to costume contests.
Since the premiere of “Downton Abbey, Season 1” on January 9, 2011, the critically acclaimed series has gained popularity across a diverse audience and has been honored with nine Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Dame Maggie Smith). It has also garnered a Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries, a PGA (Producers’ Guild of America) Award and a TCA (Television Critics Association) Award.
“Downton Abbey” is also nominated in 2013 for a Golden Globe Award for Best Drama TV Series. Its competition includes “Boardwalk Empire,” “Breaking Bad,” “Homeland” and “The Newsroom.” Michelle Dockery is up for a Golden Globe for Best Actress and Maggie Smith is nominated for Best Supporting Actress.
New episodes of “Downton Abbey” air on Sunday nights through Feb. 17 on PBS. Check local listings for times.
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