“Downton Abbey” returned for its fifth season Sunday night to big ratings, drawing an average of 10.1 million total viewers, just shy of the 10.2 million who tuned in for last January’s season premiere — which was the highest rated drama debut in PBS’s history.
The premiere, which aired from 9 to 10:15 p.m., stands as the second-highest rated episode of the series, only falling behind the Season 4 premiere.
In Nielsen Fast National data, the season premiere of the period drama scored a 6.1 household rating.
“America has wholeheartedly embraced the Crawley family and those who serve them since the first season of ‘Downton’ and we are very appreciative,” “Downton Abbey” executive producer Gareth Neame said of the season premiere numbers. “We’re thrilled to have Season 5, of which we are quite proud, off to such a strong start. On behalf of the actors, producers, crew and our good partners at PBS, thank you for continuing to make ‘Downton’ one of the most-watched television series in the world.”
“We’re incredibly excited that ‘Downton Abbey’s’ fans came out in force for the premiere of what has become a cultural phenomenon. We’ll also be looking at time-shifted and online viewing over the next few weeks as the season progresses,” noted Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General Audience Programming, PBS. “We’d like to thank our partners at Carnival and Masterpiece, the fans who have made ‘Downton Abbey’ a post-holiday treat and the many PBS stations around the country who helped make Sunday night a success.”