Downton Abbey returned a massive audience and came thisclose to setting a new ratings record.
The fifth season premiere had 10.1 million viewers Sunday night, which is huge for a PBS drama. The number is just shy of the show’s all-time peak U.S. viewership of 10.2 million viewers for its fourth season premiere. “We’re incredibly excited that Downton Abbey’s fans came out in force for the premiere of what has become a cultural phenomenon,” said PBS chief programmer Beth Hoppe. “We’ll also be looking at time-shifted and online viewing over the next few weeks as the season progresses.”
“America has whole-heartedly embraced the Crawley family and those who serve them since the first season of Downton and we are very appreciative,” added executive producer Gareth Neame. “We’re thrilled to have season five, of which we are quite proud, off to such a strong start.”
Downton ranks as PBS’ most popular show of all time. The premiere picked up Crawley family melodrama in 1924 and EW’s Melissa Maerz gave the episode an A-. You can check out her review here.