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Posted at 06:51 PM ET, 02/23/2012

‘Downton Abbey’ season finale scores big numbers for PBS

Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess, left, and Hugh Boneville as Lord Grantham on "Downton Abbey.: (Nick Briggs - AP)
“Downton Abbey’s second-season finale averaged 5.4 million viewers Sunday — PBS’s biggest crowd since it premiered Ken Burns’s “National Parks” in September of ’09.

Despite some mixed reviews, the show’s second season drew about 25 percent more viewers than the critically adored first season. And based on demographic numbers for the first half of “Downton’s second season, the crunchy-gravel drama improbably delivered lots more young viewers to the “Masterpiece” umbrella under which it aired on PBS stations.

Most dramatically, the period drama attracted 88 percent more teens, 251 percent more 18- to 34-year-old females and 111 percent more 18- to 34-year-old guys than “Masterpiece’s” 2010-11 average.

“It is so gratifying to see our beloved ‘Masterpiece,’ after more than 40 years on PBS, attracting a whole new audience,” exuded “Masterpiece” exec producer Rebecca Eaton.

PBS has not yet confirmed that it will air the third season of “Downton,” which is in production now, with Shirley MacLaine added to the cast. But PBS would be nuts not to.

By  |  06:51 PM ET, 02/23/2012

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