Downton Abbey Season 3 makes history as PBS’s highest-rated drama ever

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The characters of Downton Abbey celebrated the christening of baby Sybil during Season 3. From left, Penelope Wilton as Isobel Crawley, Maggie Smith as Violet, Dowager Countess, Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley, Hugh Bonneville as Lord Grantham, Allen Leech as Tom Branson, Ruairi Conaghan as Kieran Branson, Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley, Elizabeth McGovern as Cora Countess of Grantham and Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley. (Photo: Masterpiece)

Season 3 of the Masterpiece Classic hit Downton Abbey scored a 7.7 average rating and average season audience of 11.5 million viewers, according to Nielsen and PBS. Those figures topped Season 2 by 64 percent and 65 percent, respectively.

The numbers are also comparable to the CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes and Fox hit American Idol for the week of March 4.

The Downton Season 3 finale on Feb. 17 garnered an 8.1 national rating and an average audience of 12.3 million viewers, making it the top-rated show of the night, beating all broadcast and cable competition in primetime.

In all, 24 million viewers watched Season 3 of Downton Abbey, 7 million more than Season 2, making it the highest-rated drama on PBS ever.

On the digital side, since Jan. 1 Downton content has been viewed on the PBS Video Portal and PBS mobile apps 13.9 million times, an increase of 2.1 million views over Season 2. On Feb. 18, the day after the Season 3 finale, the Masterpiece website had its busiest day ever, with 900,000 video streams and 600,000 unique visitors.

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