Viking Cruises Inks New 'Masterpiece' Deal

The success of “Downton Abbey” has helped persuade Viking River Cruises to ink a two-year extension of its sponsorship of PBS’s “Masterpiece” series. Viking began as a series backer in late 2011, just before season two of the popular and Emmy-winning “Downton” aired.

Viking, which is launching eight new ships in 2013, is trying to capitalize on “Downton’s” popularity and its sponsorship with a visit to Highclere Castle, where much of “Downton” is filmed, as part of its offerings.

Season three will return in early 2013; an additional season could come as the Viking deal runs through 2014. In addition to the British soap opera “Downton,” “Sherlock” is also cited as a boon to “Masterpiece.”

The 15-year-old Viking joined Franklin Templeton as a top-line “Masterpiece” sponsor. Part of Viking’s deal brings it exposure on the “Masterpiece” Web site.

The Viking renewal comes as PBS could be facing more cuts in federal funding. AP reported PBS chief Paula Kerger said she believes that could force some stations to fold. PBS gets 15% of its budget from the government and has been trying to build up its sponsorship revenue to supplement viewer contributions.

“Masterpiece” suffered a blow when ExxonMobil ended its sponsorship in 2004.



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