‘Downton’ Finale on PBS Draws 9.6 Million

The series finale of Downton Abbey March 6 averaged 9.6 million viewers, with a 6.1 household rating, according to the Nielsen fast nationals. The Sunday finale outdrew the season five ender by 14% and was the most watched finale of any season of Downton.

The PBS series, about an estate and its residents—the servants and the served—amidst societal change in Great Britain, is a Carnival Films/Masterpiece co-production. Since its debut in 2011, Downton Abbey has grabbed a dozen Emmys, three Golden Globes, four Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Producers Guild Awards and four BAFTAs.

“These six seasons of Downton Abbey have truly been a fantastic ride for all of us in the public television family,” said PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger. “A sincere thank you to Carnival Films, Masterpiece, Gareth Neame and Julian Fellowes, and all of our member stations for their part in this tremendous success. Most of all, thank you to all of the loyal viewers whose enthusiasm and engagement with the show made Downton Abbey a global sensation.”

The finale brought to a close several storylines involving 20-plus characters, including the meticulously mannered butler Carson and the pair of wealthy Crawley sisters, Edith and Mary, who never quite see eye to eye.

“So that’s it. The TV journey for Downton has come to an emotional end, but what amazing ratings,” said Neame, executive producer. “We’re thrilled that a show no one could have predicted would have been such a huge hit in the U.S. as well as a global phenomenon went on to become so beloved and garner such a huge audience for its final season. On behalf of all the actors, producers and crew I would like to thank our many millions of fans in America for coming with us on this remarkable adventure.”

On Sunday, more than 25,400 people sent 66,400 tweets about the show, yielding 7.5 million impressions, according to Nielsen. And season six is the most streamed season of the series with 12.4 million streams across all PBS digital platforms as of March 8, 16% more than season five.  

Downton Abbey is a Carnival Films/Masterpiece co-production written and created by Fellowes and executive produced by Neame, Fellowes, Liz Trubridge, and Nigel Marchant. The executive producer for Masterpiece is Rebecca Eaton.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.