The Crawley family goes out on top, at least in the UK ratings. ITV’s airing of the Downton Abbey Christmas special, the last episode of the six-season drama, was the highest rated program of the night.
Deadline reports the Downton Abbey series finale drew an audience of 6.9 million viewers, earning it a 28.6 share, in the overnight ratings. While not canceled, the show is ending, but ratings still matter, where potential Downton Abbey movie sequels are concerned.
BBC One’s most watched Christmas Day program was Strictly Come Dancing at 6.5M viewers beginning at 6:15PM. Doctor Who‘s special episode aired early at 5:15PM, scoring 5.8M. Below that was long-running BBC soap EastEnders which went head-to-head with the Crawley family at 8:45PM, picking up 5.7M viewers. (On the whole day, the Queen’s Christmas message was actually the most-watched with 6.1M on BBC One and 1.3M on ITV in the mid-afternoon.)
Downton concluded its final season with an average 10.4M consolidated viewers over the first eight episodes. The Christmas episode this year was up sharply from last year‘s 5.84M viewers after the regular season’s finale went out on a two-year high with 8.8M and a 39 share.
From The Hollywood Reporter:
The final episode, which started at 8:45 p.m. and ran for two hours, peaked with 7.4 million viewers. The overnight average audience data compared with 5.8 million viewers for the show’s Christmas special in 2014, which rose to 7.7 million in consolidated ratings that include one week of time-shifted viewing, and to 8.8 million for its penultimate episode on ITV in November, which were the best ratings for the final season. […]
The first Downton Abbey Christmas special in 2011 drew an average U.K. overnight audience of 8.6 million and a peak audience of 9.1 million, which rose to 12.1 million in the consolidated viewer figures, followed by 6.8 million in 2012 and 6.6 million in 2013.
“This is the first time a Downton Christmas special has topped the ratings in the U.K. on Christmas Day,” said ITV.
The sixth season has yet to air, stateside. Season six of Downton Abbey premieres on PBS, January 3, 2016, at 9:00pm ET/PT, with the finale scheduled for March 6th.
How did you like the final Downton Abbey Christmas special? Do you think the series should have continued for a seventh season? If you’re in the U.S., will you avoid spoilers, or have you already found out what happened? Share your thoughts (but no spoilers, please) in the comments.