PBS scores highest rating on July 4

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Forget “Downton Abbey.” The big hit on PBS this year was the July 4th fireworks display in public TV’s annual “A Capitol Fourth” special.

The holiday special attracted 6.3 million viewers, according to a PBS news release, which translated into a 3.8 household rating. PBS in prime time is usually closer to a 1.0 rating.

Did someone mention “Downton Abbey”?

It wasn’t even close: That series attracted 4.2 million viewers last winter, according to PBS, translate into a 2.7 rating. And this year wasn’t unusual: In its news release, PBS noted the holiday specials are “consistently ranked among the highest rated programs on PBS over the past decade.”

What about “Downton Abbey”?

Remember, “Downton Abbey” was broadcast in January and February, when far more Americans are indoors watching television. In the summer, millions of TV viewers leave their TV sets and head outdoors, and so the number of people watching television declines. So PBS had a far higher percentage of the television audience last week than for “Downton Abbey.”

This audience number was all the more remarkable for yet another reason: PBS was competing with very expensive holiday specials on NBC and CBS, which were produced, live from New York and Boston, respectively.

The public TV special actually scored a higher audience than the CBS holiday special: PBS had 6.3 million viewers, compared to CBS’ 5.4 million, according to the Washington Post. Now there is something you don’t see every day: PBS attracted more viewers than CBS, the most-watched television network for the year – and with the same type of programming.

But wait, there’s more:

Last week saw another network TV milestone: The number one television network in the United States – the network with the largest audience in the key demographics favored by advertisers – was not NBC, CBS, ABC or Fox (or PBS). It was Univision.

The Spanish-language network was #1 among 18- to 49-year-olds, according to Deadline Hollywood, and Univision pulled ahead of the English-language competition by an even larger margin among 18- to 34-year olds – “ahead of CBS by 150%, NBC by 60%, ABC by 57% and Fox by 16%.”

The most popular program of the week at 10 p.m. was the soap opera “La Que No Podia Amar.” Another Spanish-language soap opera, “Abismo De Pasion,” was the number one program at 9 p.m.

This begs the question, has “Downton Abbey” been dubbed into Spanish?