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

UPDATED: The ITV costume drama saw a dip from its season debut and the year-ago as "X Factor" again was the weekend's top show, but continued to underperform last season despite a Simon Cowell cameo.

LONDON - Downton Abbey on ITV1 averaged 8.4 million British viewers Sunday night for a 31.8 percent share of people watching TV at 9pm, down from the previous week and the year-ago period, according to latest U.K. ratings data.

The data includes about 280,000 people who watched the show with a delay of one hour on catch-up network ITV1+1.

The average viewership was down from an average audience of 8.6 million for the costume drama's third season debut a week earlier, or 9 million when including ITV1+1. The second episode was also about 1 million viewers below the equivalent episode in 2011.

The Sunday peak audience for Downton Abbey, which overnight failed to pick up more than one Emmy award for Maggie Smith despite a range of nominations, hit 9.3 million.

The show's lead-in once again was Simon Cowell's X Factor's, whose final boot camp episode made it the most watched show of the day in Britain with 9.4 million average viewers including ITV1+1. The music competition peaked with 10.8 million viewers. But the show's ratings were once again down from the year-ago season.

Meanwhile, BBC1 Sunday night aired the first part of eight-part documentary History of the World opposite Downton Abbey, drawing only an average of 3.3 million viewers.

On Saturday, X Factor featured a brief appearance from creator Cowell as he called the judges to tell them which groups of contestants each would have to mentor.

The brief appearance didn't seem to make much of a ratings impact though. The X Factor once again was the most watched show of the day, but remained down from last year's season.

The Saturday edition of X Factor averaged 8.2 million viewers, down from the average of 10.3 million the show had drawn at the comparable stage last season.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai