February 4, 2013 — PBS and WGBH have announced that “Downton Abbey, Season 3” on MASTERPIECE CLASSIC rated second only to the Super Bowl on February 3 (Nielsen Overnights data, 4.4 household rating). The drama, a Carnival/MASTERPIECE co-production, has seen a strong audience all season; the average audience for Season 3’s first five episodes is 72% above the first five episodes of Season 2. Last night’s episode averaged 6.6 million viewers (Nielsen Fast National data).
The season premiere on January 6 earned a 7.4 national (Live +7) household rating and averaged 11.1 million viewers — growing from a 5.1 household rating and average audience of 7.9 million viewers as first reported in the Fast National overnight ratings — making it the top-rated PBS drama of all time.
These record-breaking numbers carry over into the digital space. On Sunday, January 6, a record-breaking number of unique visitors went to the MASTERPIECE site, and January 2013 vs. January 2012 saw a 53% increase in unique visitors overall, and a 174% increase in mobile visits. Additionally, in the month of January there were more than 6.3 million streams of all “Downton Abbey” content on PBS video platforms, which is 35% higher than January 2012.
Conversations centering on the official #DowntonPBS hashtag have seen consistently strong numbers all season, and users’ engagement was highlighted during the Super Bowl blackout. One @PBS tweet about Downton Abbey was one of the most talked about tweets of the evening, generating nearly 4,500 re-tweets and favorites, and mentions in Super Bowl coverage in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and ABC News.
Season 3 sales have shined across a number of retailers, including shoppbs.org (the #1 best-seller since it became available for pre-order in September 2012), iTunes (the #1 show since the January 7 launch), and Amazon Instant Video (the #1 show since the January 7 launch). Amazon recently announced that its Prime Instant Video will become the exclusive subscription streaming home for “Downton Abbey” later this year. Seasons 1 & 2 rank as the most watched TV seasons on the service.
Season 3 concludes with a 90-minute finale on February 17.
“Downton Abbey” is a Carnival/MASTERPIECE Co-Production. Carnival is a division of NBCUniversal.