Downton Abbey

January 8, 2013 by  

Downton Abbey, The Dowager Countess will be delighted. The third series of Downton Abbey opened to a record audience of nearly eight million viewers in the US, the biggest ever audience for its stateside broadcaster, PBS.

Downton Abbey was watched by 7.9 million people on Sunday night, nearly double the 4.2 million who watched the opening episode of series two.

The season premiere, which featured the wedding of Matthew and Lady Mary Crawley, delivered public service broadcasting network PBS its highest ever ratings, making it the second most-watched network in its timeslot, beaten only by CBS.

Downton’s big numbers came in spite of a controversial decision by PBS to air the Julian Fellowes drama more than three months after it screened in the UK.

It is a sign of Downton Abbey’s US appeal, as PBS’s primetime shows are typically watched by around two million viewers.

The first episode of season three also featured the first appearance by Oscar-winning US actor Shirley MacLaine.

Series three finished in the UK at the end of last year and was followed by a Christmas special which was deemed lacklustre by some critics but had a consolidated audience of more than 10 million viewers.

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