Sherlock to follow Downton Abbey on Sundays

PBS is pairing two Masterpiece favorites on Sunday nights: the upcoming third season of its hit Sherlock and ratings blockbuster Downton Abbey, the network announced today. "We continue to execute on our programming strategy to focus on our key genres, build on our night-by-night schedule, and develop new brand-defining content that sets PBS apart in the changing media landscape," PBS program chief Beth Hoppe told member station executives in an email today. PBS also announced that its 2012–13 primetime programming ratings increased 7 percent over last season, elevating the network to No. 8 among all broadcast and cable outlets from its previous rank of No. 11. Continue Reading

PBS programs win three at 2013 Creative Arts Emmys

American Masters and Downton Abbey led the opening round of the annual Primetime Emmys Sept. 15 by claiming three Creative Arts Emmys for PBS. American Masters, a production of New York's WNET, topped the category for outstanding documentary or nonfiction series. Credit for the Emmy went to Susan Lacy, executive producer; Julie Sacks, supervising producer; Prudence Glass, series producer; and Jessica Levin, producer. The Emmy for direction in nonfiction programming was awarded to Robert Trachtenberg for his direction of the American Masters biography "Mel Brooks: Make a Noise." Continue Reading

Upcoming season brings more Downton Abbey merchandise

The fourth season of Downton Abbey, launching in January on Masterpiece, will bring an influx of related merchandise. Soon fans will be able to create a quilt with Downton fabric, drape themselves in Downton jewelry, deck their halls with Downton Christmas ornaments and toast their favorite program with Downton wine as products roll out in anticipation of the premiere. “Our licensing program includes a two-pronged approach,” said Carole Postal, a co-president of Knockout Licensing in New York City, which is managing Downton product licensing in the U.S. and Canada. “Aspirational products are for those who love the elegant period look and feel of the show, and fan-based products are for those who want to show and share their enthusiasm for the characters, the writing and everything else about the series.”

Carnival Films, part of NBCUniversal, owns the intellectual-property rights to the Edwardian costume drama, which has been a huge ratings and critical hit for PBS. Executive Producer Gareth Neame told The Associated Press that Downton merchandise has been rolling out slowly. Continue Reading

Kerger describes factionalism within pubTV as system’s greatest threat

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — PBS President Paula Kerger called for local public TV stations and PBS to move beyond their reputations as a “dysfunctional family” to embrace “the power of a collective system” to strengthen their public service. In a keynote speech opening this year’s PBS Annual Meeting, Kerger said public television has reached an important moment in its history — one that she considers to be “the most important moment of my tenure” as PBS president. Kerger pointed to the outpouring of support for public TV when its federal funding came under attack during the fall presidential elections and the international attention and praise that accrued to PBS and stations following the blockbuster Masterpiece Classic hit Downton Abbey. “We have the potential to accomplish great things,” Kerger said. Continue Reading

Downton Abbey season finale nets 8.2 million viewers

The third-season finale of Downton Abbey drew 8.2 million viewers for its Feb. 17 PBS broadcast, the network and WGBH announced Feb. 19. The numbers come from Nielsen and gave the episode a 5.2 household rating. The episode came in with 50 percent more viewers than the season two finale in 2012 and also drew 300,000 more fans than this year's season premiere. Continue Reading

Amazon will become exclusive paid streaming home for Downton Abbey

Amazon announced today it has struck a deal with PBS to make its online video streaming service, Prime Instant Video, the exclusive subscription streaming outlet for Downton Abbey. Beginning June 18, Prime Instant Video will be the only subscription streaming service where viewers will be able to watch Season 3 of the smash Masterpiece Classic program. The first and second seasons of the show are currently available on Amazon as well as on rival subscription streaming services like Netflix and Hulu Plus, but will migrate exclusively to Prime on an unspecified date "later this year," according to a press release from Amazon. Prime will also be the only paid streaming service to offer Season 4 and, if produced, Season 5 of the series. Downton Abbey is already the most popular TV series among Amazon Prime customers, according to Brad Beale, Amazon director of digital video content acquisition. Continue Reading