“Downton Abbey” continues to be super for PBS. The network and station WGBH said Sunday's episode drew a 4.4 household rating using
Nielsen overnight data, second only to the Super Bowl.
To be sure, the major networks without the game effectively cede the night and just try to fill the airwaves, so the original “Downton” episode had an advantage.
PBS/WGBH also said by one measure, viewership for the first five episodes this season are up 72% above last year. Sunday’s episode drew 6.6 million viewers, according to Nielsen's fast national data.
Viking River Cruises and Ralph Lauren each run spots prior to "Downton" episodes. PBS has stated that the TV sponsorship is Lauren's first.
Using a live plus seven metric, the season premiere on Jan. 6 posted a 7.4 household number and an average of 11 million viewers, gains from initial reports of a 5.1 household rating and 7.9 million viewers, showing the series has some resonance with DVR users.
Also, the Masterpiece site -- “Downton" is part of a long-running series of productions -- had a 53% increase in unique visitors in January, compared to January 2012.
PBS and WGBH also said episodes are selling with leadership positions across a number of digital outlets, including iTunes and Amazon Instant Video. Amazon recently inked a deal for exclusive streaming rights for a subscription service for “Downton” starting later this year.