February 19, 2013

THE SKED: The Sun Doesn’t Set On “Downton Abbey”


Viewership for the Season 3 finale of DOWNTON ABBEY wasn’t hurt at all (and may have been helped a bit) by the fact that its “surprise” death had been out there in the internet ether since the show aired in the UK last December.  The finale had a 5.2 household rating and an estimated total audience of 8.2M.  That was slightly above the Season 3 premiere (5.1 rating and 7.9M viewers), and marked a spectacular 50% increase over the Season 2 finale.  (Note:  PBS doesn’t talk about the 18-49 ratings for the show, and it would be fair to assume that’s because Downton‘s audience skews on the old side.)  The Downton total audience outrated everything on NBC, ABC and FOX on Sunday night, beaten only by its competition on demo cousin CBS.

Although Downton may have to endure more cast departures in coming seasons as starring roles come in for the show’s featured actors (hence this season’s two fatalities), and series creator Julian Fellowes has begun to talk about his own exit, the series, which is PBS’s biggest hit in decades and which already has a Season 4 order, isn’t going anywhere.  As we discovered this season, there are always previously-unseen cousins who can come to live in Yorkshire, and the aristocracy knows very well how to deal with a turnover in staff.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."