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'Downton Abbey' Season 3 Premiere Ratings Surge



7.9 million viewers tuned in to see the debut episode, quadrupling PBS's primetime average.



Dan Stevens and Michelle Dockery in "Downton Abbey"
Dan Stevens and Michelle Dockery Downton AbbeyJanuary 7, 2013

Michelle Dockery in "Downton Abbey"
Michelle Dockery in "Downton Abbey"
Shirley MacLaine in "Downton Abbey"
Shirley MacLaine in "Downton Abbey"
ARLINGTON, VA — PBS and WGBH announced today that the premiere of Masterpiece Classic "Downton Abbey" Season 3 captivated viewers nationwide, building on the love affair with the series that started two years ago. An average audience of 7.9 million viewers tuned in for Sunday's premiere. (Nielsen Fast National data, 5.1 household rating.) The third season premiere of the Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning series, a Carnival/Masterpiece co-production, quadrupled the average PBS primetime rating, and exceeded the average rating of the second season premiere of "Downton Abbey" by 96 percent (based on metered market averages).

Between 9:00-11:00 p.m., PBS was the second-most watched broadcast network on Sunday. Highest local-market ratings were at member stations KCTS-Seattle (9.6 rating, 17 share), WGBH-Boston (8.8/14), KLRU-Austin (8.1/13) and WNET-New York (8.0/12).



"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," said PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger. "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."

"The well-loved characters that made Season 2 the most-watched series in Masterpiece history continue to delight us," said Masterpiece executive producer Rebecca Eaton. "I'm thrilled to see so many viewers return to the Crawley family's delicious drama and intrigue."

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 EmmyAwards, 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 a Carnival/Masterpiece Co-Production.
 
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