‘Downton Abbey’ season three episodes to premiere on iTunes before PBS in U.S.

By Daniel S Levine,

U.S. viewers who have been disappointed by PBS’ decision to continue airing episodes of Downton Abbey long after they make their debut in the U.K. got a little bit of a consolation prize from Apple’s iTunes.

iTunes users who have a Downton Abbey season pass will get to see the last three episodes of season three before PBS viewers, Apple said Monday. According to the Associated Press, Apple said that this is the first time its users will get exclusive TV previews.

The new episodes will be available starting Jan. 29. The season three finale won’t air on PBS until Feb. 17 during the network’s Masterpiece series.

Those that had hoped that PBS would air Downton’s fourth season at the same time it airs overseas this fall were likely disappointed to hear PBC chief Paula Krieger tell reporters that this isn’t likely to happen, reports The Washington Post.

At the TV Critics Association Press Tour on Monday, Krieger explained that she didn’t think the viewership for the show would be as big if it ran during the fall, since it would have stiff competition from the other broadcast networks and cable. Critics might not like that, but it’s true. Downton’s season three premiere drew a whopping 8 million viewers, four times what PBS usually averages in prime time. Krieger called that stat a “beautiful thing.”

She added, “I'm not telling you anything about season four. Don't trick me.”

Downton airs on ITV in the U.K., where its third season aired during the fall.



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