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Downton Abbey, Season 2 a Breakout Hit for WPBS DT

Watertown, New York, February 24, 2012 — WPBS-DT announced today that the conclusion of MASTERPIECE CLASSIC’s breakout hit “Downton Abbey, Season 2” captivated an average audience of 5.4 million viewers across the U.S., not including those viewing through station replays, DVRs or online streaming (Nielsen Fast National data, 3.5 household rating0. In Northern New York and Eastern Ontario the finale was viewed by a captivated two-nation audience. Nationally, the finale’s overnight rating is the highest for a PBS program since the premiere of Ken Burns’s NATIONAL PARKS in September 2009. “Downton Abbey, Season 2,” a Carnival/Masterpiece co-production, consistently drew an audience more than double the PBS primetime average.

Locally, WPBS-DT satisfied viewers’ craving for all things “Downton” through the televised event and extended community conversations via social media channels. WPBS-DT understands the cultural phenomena of the series and even went so far as to cut short other local fundraising initiatives to be sure the series aired as scheduled. In addition, WPBS-DT plans to pledge Downton Abbey, Series I in March 2012. Staff will present the series in period clothing offering Series I and II as an incentive for member support.

“PBS and our member stations are so pleased that such a large audience is enjoying this great work from MASTERPIECE,” said PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger. “From viewing parties to Twitter mentions, ‘Downton Abbey’ is riding a wave of public enthusiasm, and it’s been wonderful to see so many people discovering public television as a destination for programming that’s smart, distinctive and entertaining.”

“‘Downton Abbey’ has become a cultural phenomenon,” said WGBH MASTERPIECE executive producer Rebecca Eaton. “It is so gratifying to see our beloved MASTERPIECE, after more than 40 years on PBS, attracting a whole new audience.”

PBS and MASTERPIECE hosted live Twitter discussions with a number of special guests, including actor/comedian Patton Oswalt, which contributed to 20,000-30,000 messages on Twitter each Sunday broadcast. The conversation continued to generate 6,000-7,000 tweets daily leading to the subsequent episodes.

Additionally, “Downton Abbey” is drawing a considerably younger audience than the 2010-2011 MASTERPIECE season average. By midway through the second season, female viewers 18-34 were up 251 percent and women 35-49 were up 145 percent. Male viewership in 18-34 and 35-49 has also increased 111 and 84 percent, respectively. The teen audience has grown 88 percent.
“Downton Abbey” is a Carnival/Masterpiece co-production.

About MASTERPIECE – MASTERPIECE on PBS is presented by WGBH Boston. Rebecca Eaton is executive producer. Funding for MASTERPIECE is provided by Viking River Cruises, with additional support from public television viewers and contributors to The MASTERPIECE Trust, created to help ensure the series’ future.

About WGBH – WGBH Boston is America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the Web, including Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, Frontline, Nova, American Experience, Arthur, Curious George, and more than a dozen other prime-time, lifestyle, and children’s series.

About PBS – PBS, with its nearly 360 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each month, PBS reaches nearly 123 million people through television and more than 21 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances.

– PBS –

Lynn Brown, WPBS-DT Executive Vice President (315) 782-3142, Ext. 211,
Jennifer Rankin Byrne, PBS Communications, 703-739-5487,
Ellen Dockser, MASTERPIECE/WGBH, 617-300-5338,