UPDATED WITH TCA PANEL, 4:24 PM: Moving Sherlock has paid off for PBS. Last night’s third-season debut clocked an average audience of nearly 4 million viewers — the franchise’s biggest audience yet, according to Masterpiece exec producer Rebecca Eaton. That’s compared to the 3.2 million who’d watched the Season 2 launch. Sherlock’s move also boosted Downton Abbey last night — the drawing-room drama’s third episode of its fourth season reached an average audience of 8.4 million, up compared to the second episode’s audience of 7.9 million.
Star Benedict Cumberbatch ducked a question as to how many more three-episode seasons of Sherlock he thinks he can handle while appearing this afternoon at the TCA Winter TV Press Tour. Someone with him onstage noted BBC reportedly has said they’ll continue making them until Cumberbatch gets too famous and refuses. “Why is it always me,” Cuberbatch complained/simpered. Masterpiece chief Rebecca Eaton asked PBS chief Paula Kerger to commit to taking as many seasons as Cumberbatch thought he could handle. Kerger, seated in the audience, agreed. (more…)