‘Downton Abbey’ Comes in Second to Super Bowl

In counter-programming coup, "Downton" averages 6.6 million viewers — a mere 102 million fewer than watched the game

Talk about your counter-programming: PBS's "Downton Abbey" was second only to the Super Bowl in Sunday night primetime.

A distant second, but still.

Also read: Super Bowl Only Third-Most-Watched Show in U.S. TV History, Down From Past 2 Years

The decision to air a new episode of "Downton" — even as other broadcasters opted for repeats — paid off for PBS. Sunday's episode averaged 6.6 million viewers, just a hair below the 108.4 million viewers who tuned in for the game.

If just a few of those discriminating "Downton" viewers had deigned to watch football instead, the Super Bowl might have managed to break the record set by last year's game and become the most-watched U.S. TV broadcast ever. Instead, it had to settle for third, behind the 2011 and 2011 games.

An episode of "Elementary" that aired after the Super Bowl — and well after the conclusion of "Downton" — had 20.8 million total viewers.