The recent Emmy attention for the PBS series "Downton Abbey" has certainly helped the program grow in viewership.
The Season 2 premiere of the show, which aired Jan. 9, pulled in 4.2 million viewers, according to The Nielsen Co. That's up 18 percent over its first season average, and is actually higher than other cable shows like "Mad Men," which averaged just under 3 million viewers in its most recent season.
While the boost in viewership is great news for the show, PBS does not necessarily subscribe to the same business model that networks and basic cable channels do in terms of monetizing viewers. Instead, PBS has to hope that the 4.2 million will turn around and donate to various PBS stations during the public broadcaster's regular membership drives. "Support of viewers like you" is not just a slogan, it's the lifeblood of PBS and its stations across the country.
However, the high viewership could bode well for the show in keeping corporate sponsorship, especially if the program continues to clean up at the Emmys.
This past year, "Downton Abbey" won six Emmys out of 11 nominations. Winners included Outstanding Miniseries or Made For Television Movie; Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie with Maggie Smith; Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special by Julian Fellowes; and Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special by Brian Percival.
The show received a major nomination for Elizabeth McGovern for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie.
"Downton Abbey" was created by Egypt-born actor, writer and producer Julian Fellowes. He films the show at Highclere Castle in Hampshire in southern England, with some of the interior shots done in London.
The series is a co-production of Carnival Films and Masterpiece Theatre.
How much did the Season 2 audience help PBS? The broadcaster typically attracts about 2 million viewers during primetime hours, so grabbing 4.2 million is a definite improvement.
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