Sunday, May 26, 2024

“Downton Abbey” Season 4 Premiere Scores 10Mil Viewers, Siphons Off Network Audience


The season 4 premiere of “Downton Abbey” was a winner and then some. The two hour show broke PBS’s previous record for any drama, and scored 10.2 million viewers. That was up 22% from the season 3 premiere. PBS says that between 9 and 10pm they tied CBS and “The Good Wife” for most watched network of the evening. But according to, PBS’s 10.2 million exceeded CBS’s “Good Wife” (9.24) and “The Mentalist” (9.93). Between 9 and 10pm everything else on TV was just laid to waste.

Last night was the first time in eons, I guess, that I watched “Downton” in real time on PBS. My my things have changed. There are lots of sponsor commercials from the likes of Ralph Lauren and cruise companies. There are endless plugs, and constant invocations of the names of people who’ve given money. On top of that, PBS is really invested in a lot of ancillary chat rooms and live tweeting and that sort of thing with the cast. Plus I hadn’t really noticed they don’t call it “Masterpiece Theater” anymore, just “Masterpiece.” I guess “theater” scares people off.

No, it’s not your grandmother’s PBS anymore. Survival ain’t easy when Mitt Romney wants to shut you down.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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