While an estimated 111.5 million viewers watched the Seattle Seahawks pulverize the Denver Broncos on Fox on Sunday (up from last year’s 109 million Super Bowl viewers) , 6.8 million viewers opted instead to watch some actual drama over on PBS’s Downton Abbey – celebrating its third consecutive year as The Show That Did Best Against The Super Bowl.
According to Nielsen early stats, Downton’s 6.8 million viewers is a 3% climb compared to last year’s 6.6 million opposite the Super Bowl. This is no surprise, given the washout-ed-ness of yesterday’s football game, and the been-there-done-that-ed-ness of the Super Bowl ads — versus the high drama of the Downton episode — SPOILER ALERT — in which a big surprise birthday party was thrown for Robert, Edith found out she’s pregnant, Lady Mary caught Rose kissing Jack Ross, and the downstairs staff said good-bye to Alfred!
To put Downton’s 6.8 million viewers in some perspective, this season — Downton’s fourth — ,opened on January 5 with 10.2 million tuned in – up 22% compared to the Season 3 debut of 7.9 million.
PBS and MASTERPIECE kicked off the #DramaBowlPBS rivalry with the Big Game on Wednesday, January 29, with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and posts on other social media platforms asking fans “which team are you on?” The campaign posts and images saw tens of thousands of user interactions, generating 31.5 million potential impressions on Twitter and nearly 1.2 million post views, PBS said, citing Topsy and Facebook.