Downton, Roosevelts help boost PBS to fifth in ratings

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PBS finished the 2013-14 broadcast season in fifth place among broadcast and cable networks, up from eighth the previous season and 11th in 2011-12.

Beth Hoppe, PBS’s chief programmer, has focused on scheduling similar genres together to retain primetime audience from one show to the next. “It’s a strategy that is paying off,” she said in the announcement Wednesday.

Average primetime household Nielsen ratings rose over last season from 1.43 to 1.50, finishing with an average audience of some 1.9 million viewers, according to PBS.

Viewing on Sunday nights, anchored by Masterpiece and its hit Downton Abbey franchise, grew 7 percent over last season. Monday through Wednesday nights were each up by 4 percent.

Another boost came from The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, September’s seven-night documentary series from Ken Burns. It reached more than 33.3 million viewers, PBS said, with an average rating of 6.1. Episodes 2 through 7 made for the most-watched week on PBS since episodes 2 through 6 of Burns’s Baseball in 1994.

PBS’s season runs from the first Monday in October through the last Sunday in September.