Ratings: Sherlock's Numbers a Mystery No More

The mystery of Sherlock‘s Season 2 premiere numbers has been solved.

The PBS Masterpiece Mystery series returned on Sunday night to a total audience of 3.2 million viewers — not including replays, DVR playback or online streaming — more than doubling the average PBS primetime rating.

For comparison’s sake, Downton Abbey‘s most recent run debuted to 4.2 million total viewers.

SUNDAY RATINGS | Housewives Up, Harry’s Law Down, Amazing Race and GCB Finales Flat

“Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have taken Sherlock and Watson to a whole new level,” Masterpiece executive producer Rebecca Eaton said in a statement. “We’re thrilled that viewers have responded so enthusiastically to this groundbreaking series.”

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39 Comments
  1. Glenn says:

    I wonder how much of an impact the 5 month gap between the UK and US premieres had. I’m guessing at least half a million PBS viewers are internet savvy enough to have watched the UK version when it premiered back in January. I’m in the US and that’s when I watched it!

    • Marz says:

      I would have, but I just got caught up on season 1 last week, so waiting a week and not risking viruses was ok. But I have to admit, I do watch Merlin when shortly after its UK premiere. ;)

  2. niks says:

    I would say that most of the fans have already watched it. In the world of Internet, a delayed telecast is a mistake.

  3. Sonia says:

    I like the numbers, but, it’s shame PBS ripped four scenes out of the original broadcast. I know Americans have short attention spans but a little character development wouldn’t have killed them.

    • znachki says:

      I know, it certainly bothered me. The character beats are always my favorites, and I get so annoyed when they are cut.

      I “ahem” obtained the series when it first aired in the UK. Then I bought the region 2 DVDs. After the first deletion last night, I turned the channel.

      • ECG says:

        Which scenes did they cut? That’s always irritating.

        • Erin says:

          The one in the palace where Sherlock and John consider stealing an ashtray and the one where Mycroft calls John after Sherlock takes the cigarette were two of them. I wasn’t watching as closely since I saw it in January, so I missed the other two.

          • Em J says:

            WHAT!? they cut them!? O_O the hell!? xD I am so not sorry for living in England! xD I love the scene with the considering for stealing the ashtray! if they cut them scenes I am quite wondering what they will cut in episode 3! (If you know what I mean! I am saying no spoilers for the people that have yet to watch the episode!)

  4. ben says:

    I’m pretty sure most fans, worldwide, saw the series online way back in January. PBS should definitely reconsider the huge gap in UK and US transmissions.

    • Sara says:

      You’re right. I’m not from the US, but I’m not from the UK either, and I watched the second series back in January when it aired in the UK. And I know tons of people who did the same.

      Anyway, I was surprised about this delay. In my country it has already been aired, and it had to be dubbed and everything.

  5. Irene says:

    I know the scene with the break up but which other 3 ? So annoying I’ll have to rewarch the original

    • znachki says:

      Well, I only missed the first one, because I turned the channel. The ashtray scene.

      The distributor Heartswood (?) trimmed to fit the time. Each episode is 90 minuts, and even though the PBS slot is 90 mins, they had to have time for the Masterpiece intro, and the sponser spot at the beginning and end

  6. As a Canadian I watched it online first. Once it was on itunes I bought it too but truly if you don’t want spoilers you needed to watch it right away.
    On the other hand, 3 million viewers is fantastic considering it was up against GofT and Mad Men. Can we have season 3 of Sherlock already. It’s AMAZING!
    It is too bad about the cuts to shorten it by 8 minutes. They cut the commonwealth joke and stealing the ashtray! Those are some great jokes. Sigh.

  7. Lisa says:

    PBS should learn from the BBC America model. They shortened the gap between UK and US transmissions of their popular shows (ie, Doctor Who) and made US fans happy for not having to look for ‘other means’ to watch the show before the long gap between UK/US premieres.

    • ben says:

      Exactly. Does anyone know why Sherlock wasn’t shown on BBC America but rather PBS? What was the rationale/logic behind this decision?

      • Marc says:

        My impression is that the decision on if and where to air British television productions int he US are made much like the decision on airing US productions abroad: the producers make a deal, usually based on the money. Here, Hartswood Films sold the show to the BBC for airing in Britain and PBS/Masterpiece/WGBH for airing in the US. Both BBC and Masterpiece executives (Bethan Jones and Rebecca Eaton) have executive producer credits. I do not know what level of control the BBC has over the show; that is, does the BBC own Sherlock and hired Hartswood to make it or did they just license/buy it from Hartswood? Regardless, I would guess that Masterpiece offered more/better financing than BBC America could

        • Izzy says:

          While the things that confuse me can be endless, I find this hard to comprehend.
          With executive producers credited from both BBC and PBS, one would imagine that they are the primary financial backer of the show, so they have a say on the tone and general direction of the show and Hartswood would be the production company making it. So far so normal, since everyone is trying to subcontract out everything to keep overhead down. But if the show was shown in UK in Jan-11 then and around the world not long after, then what exactly are PBS paying the show for? Did they not pay enough and did they not negotiate the rights properly? May be should find out from the DVD release and check who owns those rights.

          • William Maulen says:

            It’s purely financing – BBC and PBS put the money up and screen the series. Hartswood completely own all copyright over the show – which explains the current lack of merchandise for example, the show’s worldwide popularity caught them by surprise.
            Neither of the channels ‘own’ the series, and they simply ‘guide’ what they think is permissable onscreen.
            As for PBS’ logic in screening the show so late… goodness knows. Possibly not to collide with Downton.

    • PBS should NOT learn from BBC America at all. With Doctor Who they also cut scenes to shorten time. And even worse than that, they sped up the running of it, so it was running faster than it should have. This is something that can utterly ruin a show depending on timing to deliver both drama and jokes, which Sherlock is rife with. Delivering the series faster still isn’t worth it if they’ve ruined it by cutting things or changing the pacing of the show as originally intended.

      • hawaiikaos says:

        That’s a good point, but not what Lisa was talking about. Ideally the premieres should be on the same day (or at least within the same week). And yes, they should be uncut and not sped up.

        As to your point, BBC America could add more commercials (or behind the scenes filler) to make an hour and half program or an hour and fifteen minutes (padding it would be preferable to speeding it up or having cuts), or make it with “limited interruptions” as Hulu does and just have a single prestige sponsor.

  8. Holly says:

    Impressive numbers. Now everybody has to hope that Congress doesn’t cut PBS’s appropriation. They’re threatening to do just that. Make noise everyone. Contact your Congressional Representative and tell them to support PBS!

  9. maidrya says:

    I’m not “Internet-savvy” enough to have watched Sherlock when it premiered in the UK back in January. Anyone want to tell me how that’s done or send a link or something – or would that get you in trouble?

    Also, re: the missing scenes. Will those be in the DVD when it becomes available in the U.S.?

    • Sharona says:

      PBS confirmed the DVDs will contain the uncut UK versions.

    • Moonlight4ever says:

      I am in the same boat! I don’t understand how they are accessing Sherlock via the web! Could somebody please tell me the secret!!!

    • mary says:

      I’m not savvy enough to have watched it January, either. But I was savvy (and foolish) enough to see it in 32 second increments on YouTube. It was great to see it (somewhat) intact and in the right order last night.

      I got the Series 1 DVD and that contained the scenes missing from the PBS version. I’m assuming the Series 2 DVD will contain the missing scenes as well.

      I really enjoyed this episode. I would have watched it right here, on the sofa, twice…twice…

    • hawaiikaos says:

      Use TunnelBear and watch it when it comes out on BBC iPlayer. That way at least it counts for Britain’s streaming view numbers and legally supports the show (yup, tunnelling is legal). Don’t bother with YouTube or any shady downloads. Then watch it again legally in your region when available so you can support the show legitimately. I’m in Canada, don’t own a TV at all, and this is what I do for both Britain and the US airings. Content providers need to hurry up and adapt to the changing global marketplace!

  10. maidrya says:

    I’ll just add – loved, loved, loved Scandal in Belgravia, missing scenes notwithstanding.

  11. rachel says:

    I just want Season three. I know they said taping will start in 2013. Does that mean the US has to wait till 2014?

  12. Willa Cree says:

    I wasn’t lucky enough to catch it when it played in the UK in January, but I wasn’t going to wait until May. I ordered the DVD from amazon.uk. Although it will NOT run on the standard TV/DVD player, it DOES run on my computer DVD player. At least I didn’t have to wait until May and then suffer through the hatchet job they did to cut out almost 7 min. to fit into the US time slot allocation.

  13. cjeffery7 says:

    take that Cumberbatch. downton abbey wins this round!

  14. Char says:

    I was willing to wait, though I wish I hadn’t needed to. Illegal downloads aren’t worth the risk, and I’m not about to pay for something I can see for free in a few months. But I hope they cut the wait time for season 3.

  15. I have seen the UK version on the Web and i cant wait for the new seasons. but it truly bothers me, “why they edit the UK version”? this us America the country of freedom of speech and expression< why do we edit TV programs to either make it short or to sensitivities to US public. please let the creativity of these TV production stand.

    Keep the real version The mystery of Sherlock‘s coming…the production and style are the best!!!! kudos to the production team.

  16. Kelly says:

    Love this show!

  17. Michelle says:

    I live in the U.S., and my most favorite shows are filmed in (and around) England, or Great Britain. Doctor Who, (10 was my favorite), Sherlock and Merlin. Anyway, I hate having to wait to see such great shows, we had to wait for Sherlock, (4 months, people?! Really?!) and we have to wait for Merlin, (though I’m not sure of the wait for Doctor Who). I can’t wait to see what happens next! Keep up the great work, BBC, Steven Moffat, and Mark Gatiss! We’re all looking forward to more!!