Are Downton Abbey fans beginning to tire of the period drama? The latest ratings indicate they might be, with less people tuning in for the Season 5 premiere. The Season 5 introductory episode of Downton Abbey was, in fact, the lowest rated debut since the ITV series first hit the schedule back in 2010.
Downton Abbey’s Season 5 premiere averaged only 8.4 million total viewers, numbers that are down from those the show was able to bring in during the past. Prior to this season, Downton Abbey was mostly able to increase viewership from premiere to premiere, with the Season 3 opener bringing in 9 million total viewers during its first night on air and the Season 4 opener pulling in 9.5 million total viewers. As THR is noting, Downton Abbey is typically an hour-long program, but the Season 5 premiere ran longer than an hour. The episode length could have potentially changed audiences’ viewing patterns related to the series. Alternatively, the UK viewership of Downton Abbey may have simply peaked.
Of course, it’s important to note that 8.4 million total viewers isn’t a disaster. That’s still a sizeable audience in the U.K. and still a much better average than the 7.7 million viewers who tuned in for the Season 1 premiere. But after the loss of several main characters, including Dan Stevens, Siobhan Finneran and Jessica Brown-Findlay at the end of Season 3, I think we can all agree that the show lost a degree of its charm and some of its familiarity in Season 4. Maybe that is now reflecting in the ratings. Then again, maybe the numbers will start to pick up in the coming weeks.
On the bright side, Season 5 should boast as much Dowager Countess as we could possibly take in. Mary’s still on the search for a potential suitor, and Edith will probably be up to some bizarre shenanigans, again. At the very least, change is afoot at Downton, giving us plenty of reasons to catch up on our favorite characters. While the UK is already getting episodes of the hit series, US audiences will begin catching new episodes of Downton Abbey on PBS starting in the New Year. If you can’t wait that long for new footage, you can check out the poignant Season 5 trailer, below.
Fans in the US can catch new episodes of Downton Abbey beginning on Sunday, January 4, 2015 at 9 p.m. ET. You can head over to PBS for more information.