The network's President and Chief Executive Paula Kerger defended their decision to air the British drama months after it premiered in the U.K.
PBS has announced that it will harbor the fifth season of British drama "Downton Abbey" starting January 4 next year at 9 P.M. ET/PT. The popular series will commence on U.K.'s ITV later this year, meaning once again the show's American fans may stumble upon the spoilers online first.
During the TV press tour in Beverly Hills on Tuesday, July 22, PBS President and Chief Executive Paula Kerger defended their choice of airing "Downton" months after it aired in the U.K. "January works well," Kerger said, reasoning that people have more time to watch TV because the weather has turned colder. She pointed out a 16 percent increase of audience in the most recent season as proof of the strategy's success.
" 'Downton Abbey' is one of those events that I think many people would refer to as lightning in a bottle," said Kerger. "It's a beautiful series, it hit at just the right time and it captured the public's attention. The thing that we can do is to look at other dramas and, as you know, we've expanded the amount of drama we have on public broadcasting on Sunday nights, is to continue to look for more work like that."
She continued, " 'Downton' has been great for us, so I'm not diminishing its impact at all. It has brought a lot of people back to public broadcasting that perhaps had drifted away. But we try to look at it as part of a whole, of everything that we're doing and looking at it as a way to bring people in. Not only to introduce them to other drama, but also to get them interested in science and history and other work that we have on public broadcasting that is educational but that is also entertaining."
Kerger also announced several new shows including Walt Disney biography film that will air in Fall 2015 and six one-hour episodes of "The Brain With Dr. David Eagleman". When asked whether they would produce their own original drama, Kerger said, "We'll be able to tell you something sometime soon."