'Downton Abbey' is PBS' most popular series since 'The Civil War' first aired in 1990

  • Article by: DAVID BAUDER , Associated Press
  • Updated: February 21, 2013 - 9:30 AM

NEW YORK - The season-ending episode of "Downton Abbey" was a ratings success for PBS, if not a fan favorite.

The public television network's hit show disappointed many fans by killing off a popular character to end the third season on Sunday. The Nielsen company said 8.2 million people saw it.

The show's third season is the most-watched series on PBS since Ken Burns' epic "The Civil War," which first aired in 1990.

CBS had 15 of the 20 most popular shows on the air last week, led by "The Big Bang Theory." But CBS also had a rare misstep, firing "The Job" after only two episodes appeared on the air.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Not everyone liked it, but 8.2 million people watched the finale to the third season of PBS' "Downton Abbey."

Sunday's last episode left many fans up in arms because of the surprise demise of a popular character, unnamed here to protect fans who haven't seen it yet. The show's third season is the most-watched series on PBS since Ken Burns' 1990 series, "The Civil War."

In further evidence of how TV viewing is changing, "Downton Abbey" and two programs that aired on cable networks Sunday — "The Walking Dead" on AMC (11.1 million) and the NBA All-Star Game on TNT (8 million) — had more viewers than anything on ABC, Fox and NBC that night. "60 Minutes," "The Mentalist" and "Amazing Race" all had more than 9 million viewers for CBS on Sunday, the Nielsen company said.

CBS had 15 of the 20 most-watched shows on broadcast television last week, not an unusual showing for television's most dominant network. The network had one failure, though: the new reality show "The Job" was fired after only two episodes. Last week's episode had 3.3 million viewers.

For the week in prime time, CBS averaged 8.8 million viewers (5.6 rating, 9 share). Fox was second with a 6.6 million average (3.9, 6), ABC had 6.1 million (3.9, 6), NBC had 4.4 million (2.9, 5), the CW had 1.5 million (1.0, 2) and ION Television had 1.2 million (0.8, 1).

Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led with a 3.8 million prime-time average (2.0, 3), Telemundo had 1.2 million (0.6, 1), UniMas had 650,000 (0.3, 1), Estrella had 210,000 and Azteca 110,000 (both 0.1, 0).

NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 9 million viewers (6.0, 11). ABC's "World News" was second with 8.3 million (5.5, 11) and the "CBS Evening News" had 7.2 million viewers (4.9, 9).

A ratings point represents 1,147,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 114.7 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of Feb. 11-17, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 17.89 million; "Person of Interest," CBS, 14.87 million; "Two and a Half Men," CBS, 13.69 million; "American Idol" (Wednesday), Fox, 13.45 million; "American Idol" (Thursday), Fox, 12.59 million; "Elementary," CBS, 10.98 million; "2 Broke Girls," CBS, 10.9 million; "Blue Bloods," CBS, 10.73 million; "Mike & Molly," CBS, 10.5 million; "Modern Family, ABC, 10.05 million.

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ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox and My Network TV are units of News Corp. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks. TeleFutura is a division of Univision. Azteca America is a wholly owned subsidiary of TV Azteca S.A. de C.V.

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Online:

http://www.nielsen.com

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