PBS has released its ratings numbers for Season 2 of Downton Abbey and, to some mild and socially restrained surprise, viewership among the male 18-34 demographic, — the same demographic largely to blame for the Entourage phenomenon — jumped up 100 percent, matching the rise in viewership among 18-34-year-old women as well as 35-49-year-old men (the increase among 35-49-year-old women was almost twice as high at 173 percent). These numbers represent the largest ever increase for the "Masterpiece" series, with the 18-34-year-old women giving "Masterpiece" the largest (278 percent) bump over its previous average.
Though conducting a head-count in the era of DVR is like trying to count each one of Maggie Smith's disapproving wrinkles, PBS showed that Season 2 of its hit show averaged 7 million viewers, up 2 million from the previous season. Abbey, with a cumulative viewership of 17 million, now ranks as the "most-watched ‘Masterpiece' miniseries on record" according to PBS, which puts The Buccaneers as a distant runner-up despite what is surely a lot of swashbuckling. The Feb. 19 season finale drew 8.1 million viewers, making it the "most-watched" show since the premiere of Ken Burns' National Park series. To put that in single-episode perspective, Mad Men's two-headed season premiere last Sunday arrested 4.4 million wandering eyes and it's season 4 finale drew 2.44 million. Through PBS and Masterpiece's sites, Abbey streamed 7.1 million times, and more than 12 million times across all other platforms.
Male viewership is a significant part of that ratings boost, which ensures that Masterpiece programs are tapping wider audiences, and will no longer be relegated to the lobbies of bed and breakfasts across America.
PBS: Guys did watch ‘Downton Abbey' [Philly.com]