Downton Abbey Season 2: Shouldn’t PBS Just Air It, Already?

Derek Kompare, film and media arts professor in SMU's Meadows School of the Arts talks about factors in broadcast decisions in U.K. versus U.S.

By Cindy Y. Hong

The second season of Downton Abbey premiered on September 18, 2011 in the U.K. But U.S. fans still need to wait until January 8 of next year to find out how the aristocratic Crawley family weathers modernity, entails, and World War I. Of course, impatient American viewers may seek unauthorized online sources in the meantime. Given that illegal streaming and downloading have become so common, why is PBS waiting almost four months to release the second season of Downton Abbey?...

Derek Kompare, a film and media arts professor at Southern Methodist University, believes that it’s valuable for networks to consider demographics on a show-by-show basis. For instance, delaying broadcast could build anticipation among older viewers who are less likely to use online streaming. Though a PBS spokesperson acknowledged via email that “resourceful fans will try to find a way to watch season two before the … PBS broadcast,” they also believe that many fans will tune in come January. “Also, we know that true Downton addicts will watch the series more than once.”