Another year and another season of Downton Abbey has come and gone. Who knows when this series will ever lose its popularity, but for now it looks like things can only go up. I know that’s in direct defiance of gravity, but I don’t make the rules and I definitely skipped out on high school physics so I don’t even fully understand the laws of gravity anyway. That being said, after jumping up and down for an hour, I’m pretty sure what goes up must come down. You can probably already tell that this isn’t going to be a positive article. Oh boy, would you be right.
When Downton Abbey aired its fourth season finale (the finale had already aired in the UK last year), it averaged 8.5 million viewers, which is up 300,000 from last February. That third season finale brought in 8.2 million, which was a pretty big number, or so we thought at the time. This year, according to THR, Downton managed to be the third-most-watched show of the night, standing behind the Olympics and The Walking Dead. Overall, Season 4 averaged 8.3 million, a number that will go up after time-shifting is taken into account, with its premiere reaching a high of 10.2 million viewers.
Downton’s audience has been growing, even if only a little bit at a time. What we’re seeing is the inevitable growth from having the series readily available to catch up on via Netflix or Amazon Prime. But, eventually, that growth will plateau. And then it will decline. The only way to prevent this from happening would be to cancel the series now before it has the chance to fall. Is that a negative way to look at the lifespan of the series? Absolutely, but it is realistic and Downton isn’t growing at a fast enough rate to make me think its success will last much longer.