downton abbey season 3 finale 'Downton Abbey' Season 3 ratings set record for PBSThe final numbers are in for “Downton Abbey” Season 3 on PBS and they are big. The U.K. import period drama earned a 7.7 average rating for the season and an average season audience of 11.5 million viewers. This is up roughly 64 percent over Season 2.

The Season 3 finale earned an 8.1 national rating and an average of 12.3 million viewers, once the Nielsen Live +7 numbers were taken into account. This beat all broadcast and cable competition for the timeslot.

In all, 24 million viewers watched the third season goings-on of the Crawley family and their household staff, up 7 million total viewers over Season 2. That makes “Downton” the highest-rated PBS drama of all time.

“We’re thrilled with how many people have fallen in love with ‘Downton Abbey,'” says PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger. “‘Downton Abbey’ has introduced so many viewers to the world of public television, and anchored a very strong Sunday night drama lineup on PBS stations. Beyond our airwaves, millions more are finding ‘Downton Abbey’ online, and sharing their excitement and enthusiasm on social media.”

“We look forward to more great drama and new challenges for the Crawley family in Season 4,” says “Masterpiece” executive producer Rebecca Eaton.

Look for “Masterpiece’s” next, err, masterpiece when “Mr. Selfridge,” starring Jeremy Piven, premieres on Sunday, March 31 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, following the second season premiere of “Call the Midwife” at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

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."