PBS doesn’t plan to change the way it schedules “Downton Abbey,” even if it means some fans will have seen or read about it by the time it arrives in the United States.
As she has in the past, PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger said Tuesday (Aug. 6) at the TCA press tour that scheduling “Downton” on PBS a couple months after it airs overseas works pretty well.
It may even be that the fact that spoilers are out there from the U.K. broadcast helps PBS, Kerger says. “As we look at how we get promotion and buzz around the series, the fact that people talk about it, the word of mouth sort of travels once it premieres in the U.K. [and] has actually benefited us,” she says.
Noting that “Downton” is PBS’ highest-rated drama series and scored the service’s second-best single-night rating ever (behind “The Civil War”), Kerger adds, “You don’t want to mess with that when it’s working so well.”
That’s not to say, though, that Kerger takes spoilers lightly, particularly in an era where people save up entire seasons of shows to watch in large chunks.
“Whenever I speak in public and talk about series like ‘Downton Abbey,’ I actually never talk about the end of Season 3 because there are still a significant number of people who still haven’t seen it,” she says. “I can make vague references to the fact that if anyone has issues with the way Season 3 ended, to please not contact me, to contact [creator] Julian Fellowes.”
Season 4 of “Downton Abbey” premieres Jan. 5, 2014, on PBS.