10:27am PT by Lesley Goldberg
TV Ratings: 'Downton Abbey' Returns to Strong 10 Million Viewers
Downton Abbey returned for its fifth-season debut Sunday on par with its premiere numbers a year ago.
Season five returned to 10.1 million viewers in live-plus-same-day returns on PBS, nearly matching the 10.2 million who tuned in to season four's return. The critically praised series continues to deliver strong live viewership despite the fact that it airs three months earlier in the U.K., a clear sign that its American fanbase isn't turning to illegal channels to catch episodes.
From 9-10:15 p.m. Sunday, PBS was the most watched network based on weighted metered market program averages.
“We’re incredibly excited that Downton Abbey’s fans came out in force for the premiere of what has become a cultural phenomenon. We’ll also be looking at time-shifted and online viewing over the next few weeks as the season progresses,” said Beth Hoppe, chief programming executive and GM, general audience programming at PBS. “We’d like to thank our partners at Carnival and Masterpiece, the fans who have made Downton Abbey a post-holiday treat and the many PBS stations around the country who helped make Sunday night a success.”
Downton is PBS' most popular show of all time. Check out THR's interview with creator Julian Fellowes here.