At the 2014 TCA summer press tour executive session for PBS, president and CEO Paula Kerger spoke about how positive “Downton Abbey” and its record-setting ratings have been for PBS, but also how the show is just one part of a diverse whole.
“‘Downton Abbey’ is one of those events that I think many people would refer to as lightning in a bottle,” says Kerger. “It’s a beautiful series, it hit at just the right time and it captured the public’s attention. The thing that we can do is to look at other dramas and, as you know, we’ve expanded the amount of drama we have on public broadcasting on Sunday nights, is to continue to look for more work like that.”
Kerger continues, “‘Downton’ has been great for us, so I’m not diminishing its impact at all. It has brought a lot of people back to public broadcasting that perhaps had drifted away. But we try to look at it as part of a whole, of everything that we’re doing and looking at it as a way to bring people in. Not only to introduce them to other drama, but also to get them interested in science and history and other work that we have on public broadcasting that is educational but that is also entertaining.”
When asked about PBS perhaps producing its own original drama, Kerger teases, “We’ll be able to tell you something sometime soon.”
“Downton Abbey” returns to PBS on Sunday, Jan. 4 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on PBS.