Even though U.S. viewers love their 'Downton Abbey,' the U.K's ITV gets to show the award-winning socialite series months before it crosses the ocean. For instance, 'Downton Abbey's third season wrapped in the U.K. weeks ago, while Americans won't even see the premiere until January 6! All that may change for the recently-commissioned fourth series, as PBS is considering a deal that would allow the respective countries' premiere dates to fall much closer, but what factors may get in the way?

So frequently foreign viewers are confronted with delayed air-dates of our favorite U.S. TV series, but the in the case of 'Downton Abbey,' Masterpiece Theatre has put the shoe on the other foot. U.S. viewers often don't see the Julian Fellowes-created series until months after its U.K. run, leaving them subject to spoilers and pirated links. PBS may manage to change that for the fourth season however, according to Entertainment Weekly.

The network is considering an agreement that would put U.S. airings of the fourth series far closer to the U.K. premiere, considering its February shoot. Says Masterpiece publicist Olivia Wong:

Obviously, spoilers and piracy are two key reasons supporting the case to air Downton closer to the UK broadcast. On the other hand, there are technical hurdles and financial considerations (we’d have to pay more to speed up the cost of post-production).

One big reason to air in January is that it’s an optimal time to schedule a program like Downton — viewership is high and it’s out of the way of the barrage of September premieres. These are on-going scheduling considerations as we look to Season 4.

What say you?  Would you want to see 'Downton Abbey' airing earlier in the year, even if it meant a threat to the ratings? Will you watch the upcoming third series?

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