PBS announced the return date for the popular period drama "Downton Abbey," whose fourth season will premiere in the U.S. Jan. 5, the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports. The premiere date is months after the program airs on British television — a fact that will likely lead to spoilers for American audiences.
Last year, for example, many U.S. viewers found out through online publications that a major character died in the season finale, weeks before the show had aired in the U.S.
"The fact that people talk about it and that that word of mouth sort of travels once it premieres in the U.K. has actually benefited us," PBS President and Chief Executive Paula Kerger told reporters Tuesday at the Television Critics Association press tour.
The fourth season of "Downton" will debut in Britain in the fall.
Kerger said the earlier broadcast in the U.K. may be one reason the show draws such high ratings in America. "Downton Abbey" ranks as PBS’s most-watched drama ever, drawing an average of 11.5 million viewers.
She added, "It’s one of those handful of programs, I think, that are on the air still that people do sort of want to have a collective experience about."