shirley maclaine downton abbey maggie smith 'Downton Abbey' Season 3 premiere ratings quadruple average PBS primetime ratingRatings are in for the Season 3 premiere of “Downton Abbey,” which aired Sunday night (Jan. 6) on PBS after a nearly year-long hiatus from the end of the second season. But “Downton” did not lose any of its Season 2 steam.

“Downton” returned to an audience of 7.9 million viewers and a 5.1 household rating according to the Nielsen Fast National data. That is quadruple the average PBS primetime rating and is 96% higher than the rating for the Season 2 premiere a year ago.

For its two-hour timeslot, “Downton” was only beaten by CBS as far as the network ratings goes; ABC, FOX and NBC all trailed PBS.

“‘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,” says
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.”

“Masterpiece” executive producer Rebecca Eaton adds, “The well-loved characters that made Season 2 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.”

Did you tune in to the “Downton Abbey” Season 3 premiere?

Posted by:Andrea Reiher

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."