'Downton Abbey's' Second Season Starts Strong for PBS

'Downton Abbey' - Outstanding Miniseries, Movie or a Special
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Writer-producer Julian Fellowes (c) and the crew of Downton Abbey nabbed six Emmys this year, including outstanding miniseries or movie, and writing and directing honors.

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The second season launch for British series Downton Abbey notched impressive ratings for PBS.

Approximately 4.2 million total viewers tuned in Sunday evening for the first episode of the new season on U.S. television, topping the first season average by 18 percent in the ratings. That number does not include replays, DVRs or streaming on the web.

Masterpiece has outdone itself once again,” said PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger. “I’m so pleased that audiences have flocked to their local PBS station and Downton Abbey to enjoy some of the best drama on television this season.”

The second season sees the Crawley family and their servants at Downton Abbey during World War I. The series premiere notched more than 400,000 streams online with the first season racking up more than 1 million streams.

It was announced late last year that British broadcaster ITV renewed Downton Abbey for a third season. On Golden Globes nominations morning, creator Julian Fellowes revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that he had yet to finalize scripts when production begins in February: "We do have to have probably six or seven of the scripts ready before we start just so everyone knows what we're doing."

Downton Abbey, which won six Emmy Awards last year, airs Sundays on PBS through Feb. 19.