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'Downton Abbey' ends third season with new ratings mark

February 19, 2013|By Scott Collins
  • Matthew Crawley, played by Dan Stevens, during filming of season three of the hit period drama "Downton Abbey."
Matthew Crawley, played by Dan Stevens, during filming of season three… (Matthew Lloyd / Los Angeles…)

It may have been dark, but viewers didn't seem to mind: PBS' monster hit "Downton Abbey" ended its third season with another ratings surge.

An average of 8.2 million total viewers tuned in to Sunday's season finale of the British period drama, according to Nielsen. That was up 52% compared with the season two closer. The premiere earlier this season drew 7.9 million.

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American fans were dreading the finale, due not only to their love for the show but also to the fact that it marked the end of Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens), the popular scion of "Downton." Crawley's departure from the show -- first revealed during the UK telecast late last year -- was one of TV's worst-kept secrets due to rampant Internet spoilers.

But Crawley's demise seems to have only deepened fascination for "Downton," which during season three quadrupled the typical prime-time average for PBS.

In fact, "Downton" is more popular than many entertainment series on rival broadcasters. The finale drew more viewers than the previous week's episodes of "Scandal" (8.1 million), "The Bachelor" (7.9 million), "Chicago Fire" (6.6 million) and "Glee" (6 million).

What did you think of the "Downton" season finale?

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Twitter: @scottcollinsLAT

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