PBS Masterpiece’s hit “Downton Abbey” drew its second season to a close on Sunday, Feb. 19 with a two-hour Christmas episode that aired as a special in Britain last Christmas Day.
Ratings have been released and the episode now ranks as the highest PBS program since the premiere of Ken Burns’ “National Parks” in September 2009. The episode drew 5.4 million viewers and a 3.5 household rating, which does not include station replays, DVRs or online streaming. Season 2 of “Downton” earned on average 25% higher ratings than its first season. The finale was also up 23% over the Season 2 premiere, which drew 4.2 million viewers.
To compare “Downton” to its timeslot competition, it finished ahead of the original programming on FOX in its first hour and ABC in its second hour. Additionally, as the second season went on, female viewers 18-34 rose 251% and women 35-49 rose 145%. And the men are getting in on the action too, as male viewers 18-34 grew 111% and 35-49 grew 84%.
“‘Downton Abbey’ has become a cultural phenomenon,” says executive producer Rebecca Eaton. “It is so gratifying to see our beloved Masterpiece, after more than 40 years on PBS, attracting a whole new audience.”
“PBS and our member stations are so pleased that such a large audience is enjoying this great work from Masterpiece, ” says PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger. “from viewing parties to Twitter mentions, ‘Downton Abbey’ is riding a wave of public enthusiasm, and it’s been wonderful to see so many people discovering public television as a destination for programming that’s smart, distinctive and entertaining.”
“Downton” will return to PBS next January. Only 318 days to go, Downtonites.