'Downton Abbey' U.K. Ratings Drop for Second Episode of Season 5

ITV's 'X Factor' drew a bigger audience than its hit drama, which lost 1.5 million viewers compared to the equivalent episode last year

The second episode of season five of Downton Abbey on Britain's ITV drew an average audience of 8.1 million Sunday night, according to overnight data. That ranked the show just behind the network's The X Factor with Simon Cowell, the night's most watched show in Britain, but was down sharply from the equivalent episode last year.

The second episode of the last season had drawn 1.5 million more viewers, according to ratings consultancy Attentional.

The Downton audience compared to last weekend's 8.4 million average audience for the season debut, which marked the show's lowest season start since its first-season launch in 2010 with 7.7 million viewers. The season debut's consolidated audience, including catch-up viewing over the first week, reached 10.7 million viewers, down from 11.95 million last season. But the show's audience share remained pretty steady at 41 percent, compared with 42 percent last season and the second-best figure ever for a season start of the drama.

That figure in turn compared with the 9.5 million overnight ratings for the previous season, the 9.0 million overnight audience for the third-season opener and the nearly 9.3 million viewers for the second-season start. The ratings data is from ratings consultancy Attentional.

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Last season, the second episode of the show outperformed the first one slightly in the overnight ratings.

X Factor on Sunday drew an average audience of 8.97 million, down 500,000 from the equivalent year-ago episode.

The drama was created by Julian Fellowes. Later this year, ITV will air a short Downton film with George Clooney, who got married this weekend.

Downton Abbey had finished its fourth season on ITV1 strongly, drawing an average audience of 9.8 million. In the U.S., the show, produced by NBCUniversal's Carnival Films, has been airing on PBS since 2011.

Sept. 30, 1:50 a.m. Updated with consolidated ratings figures for the first episode of the season.

Email: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai