TV Ratings: 'Downton Abbey' Wins Super Bowl Runner-Up Race For Third Year

UPDATED: The PBS airing of the British drama, which saw a big promotional push as counterprogramming against the big game, improved its haul from 2013 with 6.8 million viewers.
Courtesy of AP/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013
"Downton Abbey"

The race for second place again goes to Downton Abbey. PBS' ratings darling, which has gone head-to-head with the Super Bowl for three years running, again topped all non-NFL offerings on U.S. TV Sunday night.

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Masterpiece Classic's outing of Downton Abbey, which it plugged alongside Sherlock with the promotional hashtag #DramaBowlPBS, averaged 6.8 million viewers during its 9 p.m. ET premiere. That makes it a touch bigger than last year's Super Bowl night haul of 6.6 million viewers.

Each year Downton Abbey has aired against the Super Bowl, it has enjoyed runner-up status on all of TV in both total viewers and adults 18-49 -- though demographics mean little to the ad-free public broadcaster.

At 10 p.m., PBS closed the third season of Sherlock. The drama averaged 3 million viewers in its third and final episode. That's shy of its U.S. series high -- 4 million viewers on Jan. 19 -- but up from last week's 2.9 million viewers.