Don’t tell Mrs. Patmore: DVRs a boon to ‘Downton Abbey’ ratings

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“Downton Abbey” is a show that romanticizes an era before cellphones and televisions, but it turns out modern technology has been good to the costume drama.

In news that would no doubt send Mrs. Patmore, Downton’s Luddite cook, into a panic, PBS and WGBH announced Monday that the audience for the Season 4 premiere grew by 52% to an audience of 15.5 million, once DVR viewership over the following week was factored in. (And here she thought electric mixers were a force to be reckoned with!) In terms of the size of its time-shifted audience, that puts the “Downton Abbey” premiere on par with NBC’s “The Blacklist,” which gets around 6 million DVR viewers.

And that number is all the more impressive given that the Jan. 5 premiere, which drew 10.2 million sets of eyeballs, had already set a record as the highest-rated drama premiere in PBS history and marked a 39% uptick from the average audience for the Season 3 premiere.


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It makes sense that “Downton Abbey” would benefit from time-shifted viewing, given that it airs on Sundays, the busiest night of the week for prestige TV.

In related news, “Downton Abbey” also performs well online, where the Season 4 premiere was streamed nearly 1.2 million times in the week after the initial broadcast — though we’re guessing the Dowager Countess wasn’t one of those logging in to watch.


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