From WILL - TV Worth Blogging -

Downton Delayed ‘Til 2014

Not on PBS' fall schedule.

No worries, Downton will return. It'll just be later than you may have hoped.

Highclere Castle, the main location used for "Downton Abbey." Photo has been retouched to add a sign reading "Reopening 2014?"

Credit: Courtesy of Lord and Lady Carnarvon Producer: Pioneer Productions

U.S. fans of Downton Abbey already feeling the absence of new episodes will have to wait a bit longer, I’m afraid.

Yesterday PBS announced their fall lineup, and Downton was noticeably absent. While there’s absolutely no doubt that Series Four will be coming to WILL-TV, it’s now looking likely to be in January 2014. (UPDATED: The premiere has been announced as January 5, 2014.)

This isn’t too much of a surprise. PBS has delayed each previous series of Downton to January, several months after its UK debut. They’ve done this so as to avoid the crush of the fall network TV season. As a system, we can’t match the promotional muscle of the media conglomerates, so better to wait until things are a bit quieter to make our own push.

And it’s hard to argue with the success of that strategy. Series Three of Downton was the highest-rated PBS drama of all time, averaging 11.5 million viewers across its run.

Admittedly, it can be frustrating for US viewers. We live in a world of instant spoilers, so any delay means avoiding online discussions. And the temptation to watch episodes by extra-legal means is an ever-present issue for the distributors of international TV hits.

While I don’t have any firm information yet, my presumption is that there will be a repeat of Series Three this December, with Series Four arriving in January. I hope that you’ll join us then! (Patience is still a virtue, right? Right?)