Ratings: Downton Abbey Wraps Second Season on Record-Breaking Note

Sunday’s second season finale of Downton Abbey drew 5.4 million viewers, the biggest audience in the show’s history and PBS’ largest turnout for a program in nearly three years (since the launch of Ken Burns’s National Parks in September 2009.)

Even more impressive, Abbey‘s numbers do not factor in replays, DVR data or online streaming.

Abbey‘s Season 2 average is up 25 percent compared to its first season.

Production on the show’s third season is currently underway in the UK.


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27 Comments
  1. Elizabeth says:

    So happy that quality television is getting viewers! Ausiello didn’t include the stats here in this article but according to PBS, the percentages of younger viewers, men and women, and even teenagers dramatically increased for season 2 of DA. I hope this translates into successful pledge drives for PBS in the future. I would hate to imagine a future without it! Between the fantastic educational, commercial free programming for children, Masterpiece, Nova and Frontline and many others, we are addicted to PBS in our house!

  2. Toto says:

    So happy to know this. This show should bring in tons of pledge money to PBS. It’s taken hold of me more than any show in years. The last time I got this wrapped up in a weekly show was for Gilmore Girls and before that M*A*S*H.

  3. Loni says:

    I’m so happy Downton Abbey did well! It’s such an excellent show!
    Question though: I’d heard from a friend who has relatives in the UK that season three will be the last. Is that true? I searched on-line and all I could find was that Fellows’ original outline was for three seasons, but I just hope that since the show has grown in viewers, that they’ll just keep making more stories. Do you know anything Michael?

    • kt says:

      I’m not sure whether it’s the last or not, but that would make sense. When two seasons have covered the span of nearly 8 years, it’s next to impossible to keep the story going at that kind of a pace, especially when the actors barely look a day older than they did at the start of Downton Abbey.

    • Ben says:

      British shows having only 3 or 4 short seasons is pretty much the norm. More than that is relatively uncommon. However, nothing has been announced in this regard yet, its probably just a prediction rather than any inside knowledge.

      • Templar says:

        I’m not sure about that. As Time Goes By had 9 or 10 seasons, New Tricks had at least 6 or 7.

        • Ben says:

          New Tricks is past 8, Spooks had 10, Waking the Dead had 9, Foyles War is talking about 8. Nevertheless it is pretty much the norm to have fewer.

          • maggie says:

            “Foyles War is talking about 8″
            I hope Foyles War comes back. It’s one of my all-time favorites.
            Whether of not Downton Abbey goes beyond 3 seasons will be up to the writer/creator Julian Fellowes. If he wants to write a 4th season then he’ll most likely have no problem getting the money to do it.

    • Um says:

      I believe that I read somewhere Julian Fellowes only expects to do up to five years/seasons as each year “eats up” a lot of time.
      That said, we know of one guaranteed season but may get up to a total of three more. (I am all for the more, as is my husband who watches the show with me every week!)

  4. Helen says:

    Loni – I’m in the UK and can tell you I’ve heard that ITV (the UK channel that airs Downton Abbey) have said they see the show going further than three seasons…so fingers crossed!

  5. Paul says:

    Season 2 averaged almost 12 million viwers in the UK, beating many of the more established shows like Doctor Who and Spooks, there is now way that ITV would let this show go after only 3 Seasons when it is shuch a big money maker for them.

    • Ben says:

      Julian Fellowes has to want to write it for longer. In terms of network control, things work a lot differently in Britain to the US. ITV may not want to see it go, but they have less control than, say, ABC would have over a show here.

  6. MikeH says:

    Julian Fellowes said that he intends on writing more seasons then just three. He was quoted in the Britsh press that the show is so popular that going past 3 seasons is a given. Whether the actors etc think so is another story Is say…but the show is totally brilliant and I didn’t start watching until mid way 2nd season. I went back and watched all the 1st season and caught up with 2nd season in order to see the last 4 episodes of this season ;) Sheesh but to wait almost a year for the next season is bumming me out.

    • Agreed says:

      Mr. Fellowes has also said, however, that each season goes through more than an actual year of content and events, so he did not anticipate the show going longer than five. I would rather the show end at five seasons and go out on a high note rather than have the quality fall off so there can be even more seasons…
      Did anyone else hear that the Roaring 20′s is the start of S3? Would make sense since they just wrapped up on NYE 1920…
      Can’t wait to see Shirley MacLaine and Maggie Grace verbally spar.

  7. Mary says:

    Can someone please talk to PBS and convince them to show the new episodes sooner than January (if ITV will allow it). It’s ridiculous that they would wait so many months considering that their younger viewers will just get on the internet and find them once they are shown in the UK.

    • Easy says:

      Go take a look at the notes that Jace Lacob wrote about this specific issue on televisionaryblog.com. You will understand why PBS “holds” them after you learn how it fits into their schedule.

    • Ben says:

      Welcome to what happens in the rest of the world re American shows :)

    • maggie says:

      Mary,
      “Masterpiece” divides their season into 3 sections: Classic, Contemporary and Mystery. Despite the fact that Downton Abbey isn’t based on a classic novel, they group DA into the “Masterpiece Classic” section of their year. That section starts in January. It has nothing to do with ITV. “Masterpiece” is a producer, along with Carnival Films, of Downton Abbey. That means “Masterpiece” puts up a part of the money to make the show. ITV shows DA in the UK, because they bought the rights to show it in the UK from Carnival/Masterpiece.

  8. Rae says:

    Does anyone know whether season 3 will air in the U.S. relatively close to when they air in the U.K.? Or will Americans have to wait MONTHS after the British airing to see it, like we have for seasons 1 & 2? They’ve figured out how to do this for Doctor Who, so why can’t they do it for Downton Abbey??

    • Laurel says:

      Downton airs in the UK in November & December.
      Then it airs in the US in January & Febuary.
      PBS hasn’t made announcements about changing the schedule.
      Filming of the New Season just started last week in the UK.
      I love Downton but having to wait until next winter for any new episodes is a real Bummer…

      • Templar says:

        I’m happy that it airs in Jan. and Feb. because the holidays are hectic and I look forward to the peaceful winter doldrums to enjoy this wonderful program without distractions.

  9. Pamela says:

    Yay! Great show!

  10. alicia says:

    Love love love love this show! So excited it’s coming back for a new season, although I don’t think I can wait that long to see it! :)

  11. Lauren K says:

    Man I love this show. I am so glad that it’s getting the ratings it deserves. I don’t know what it is about the movie/mini series format that the British do that occasionally makes things so magical but it does. The BBC Pride and Prejudice and North and South are two of my favorite shows ever. I re-watch them for comfort and happiness because they are that amazing. Downton is definitely joining them. My only fear is that they will skew too much into the soap opera feel if they try to continue it into 4 or 5 seasons. The Anna and Bates story is torturous and the Earl and the housemaid story was not as well represented as it could have been. I could totally see him being depressed and ostracized in a family of people who are all changed but it wasn’t developed enough to feel real. Anna and Bates are my favorite characters but this soapy who killed Vera story is lame. I think she killed herself because it was the only way to make sure that Bates would be either miserable or dead.

  12. Pixley says:

    …Yeah, I’m never going to get sick of seeing that picture. Ever. EVER. :D

  13. maggie says:

    I’m so happy that so many people are watching Downton Abbey. I hope that they keep watching Masterpiece, as it’s filled with great shows.

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