“Downton’s” fourth season saw an average audience of 13.2 million viewers when the final numbers were calculated, which is up nearly 2 million from its Season 3 numbers. This firmly cements the Crawley family period piece as the highest-rated drama in PBS history. Likewise, “Sherlock” saw a gain of 2.2 million year-over-year, going from an average of 4.4 million in Season 2 to an average of 6.6 million in Season 3.
Beth Hoppe, chief programming executive for PBS, says, “The pairing of ‘Downton Abbey’ and ‘Sherlock’ was a winning blueprint this year, helping both series reach record audiences on PBS member stations. British drama lovers have even more to look forward to this spring with new seasons of fan-favorite series returning to their local stations.”
“Masterpiece” executive producer Rebecca Eaton adds, “The success of ‘Downton Abbey’ and ‘Sherlock’ proves again that superb storytelling and first-class acting are an unbeatable combination. If this is indeed a Golden Age of television, we’re proud to be right in the middle of it. Congratulations to our partners at Carnival Films and Hartswood Films on the extraordinary results for these programs.”
“Downton Abbey” returns to PBS in early 2015 for its fifth season. A Season 4 has not yet been announced for “Sherlock.”
A previous version of this article misidentified “Sherlock” as returning in early 2015 as well. We apologize for the error.