"Downton Abbey" is once again proving to be quite the popular destination for PBS viewers.
The Season 3 premiere of the series on PBS on Sunday night amassed a jaw-dropping 7.9 million viewers -- an all-time high for the series, and nearly double the number for last January's Season 2 premiere, which drew 4.2 million total viewers. In addition to the considerable boost over last season's premiere, the two-hour Season 3 premiere -- which aired from 9 to 11 p.m. -- quadrupled the average primetime rating for PBS.
In terms of household ratings, Sunday night's "Downton Abbey" drew a 5.1, according to preliminary numbers. In its current season, "Downton Abbey" -- which is a joint production between Carnival and Masterpiece -- picks up after the Great War.
�""'Downton Abbey'�' continues to enthrall audiences nationwide, and this season is especially riveting with the addition of Shirley MacLaine to the cast and the lively interaction between her and Maggie Smith," PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger said of the premiere. "�"I'm so pleased that audiences have returned to �'Downton Abbey�' on their local stations to continue to enjoy some of the best drama on television.�""