Sherlock to follow Downton Abbey on Sundays

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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.

Sherlock returns at 10 p.m. Eastern Jan. 19, ending a nearly two-year wait for its “rabid” fans, notes Entertainment Weekly. This is the first time the date of the U.S. premiere was announced before the BBC revealed the air date in the U.K.

Downton Abbey‘s fourth season bows Jan. 5.

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