January 6, 2014

THE SKED: There Will Always Be An England (On US TV) – “Downton” Hits New High


Millions of Americans desperately worried about the plight of widowed Lady Mary knew where to go for their fix of British aristocracy last night, as DOWNTON ABBEY reached yet another new historic high for PBS.  The Season 4 premiere was watched by 10.2M viewers, up sharply from 7.9M for last year’s premiere (which was itself up sharply from the previous year’s 4.2M), and also way up from the show’s previous record-holder, 8.2M for last season’s finale.  (Between its period setting and its PBS platform, Downton is an older-skewing show, so those are all total viewer numbers, not 18-49 demo figures.)

After a similarly record-breaking season in the UK (where, as all Downton fans who need to avoid spoilers know, the episodes air several months before they do in the colonies), the series has already been renewed for Season 5–which is where the cast’s current contracts end.  Since there’s every incentive in the world for the show to continue on for years after that, either there’s a lot of renegotiation to be done between now and then, or an especially vicious plague may need to hit Downton next season.


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."