February 19, 2013 2:20pm PT by Michael O'Connell
TV Ratings: 'Downton Abbey' Finale Rises to Record 8.2 Million Viewers
PBS continues to grow its Downton Abbey audience, despite the months-long delay from the series' original British air date.
Sunday's season three finale, originally broadcast in the U.K. as the 2012 Christmas special, pulled in 8.2 million viewers to the public broadcaster. That's a 50 percent improvement from last February's 5.4 million finale and a jump of 300,000 from January's season opener.
The third season consistently outperformed the second, besting the previous season's average by 66 percent.
It's a different story from the U.K., where the series comparatively underperformed from highs in its second season. The same episode, which aired during the highly contested Christmas ratings battle, drew 7.3 million viewers in its initial broadcast on ITV. It later rose to 10.3 million viewers with one week of time-shifted viewing.
PBS' Live+Seven Day ratings will be available in March, as will the final season three average.