Credit: © Copyright ITV plc 2013

What is football? Can’t you just hear the Dowager Countess uttering those words with a trace of disdain over tea? Well, Dowager, football — at least the North American variety —  is nothing you need concern yourself with.

New ratings from yesterday (Sunday, February 2) show the latest episode of Downton Abbey was second only to the Super Bowl, which ran in the same time slot on the East Coast. That’s the third straight year in a row the show has claimed the spot of second-highest-rated show on Super Bowl Sunday, according to The Wrap

It’s already been a record-breaking year for PBS and its imported darling. The January 5 U.S. premiere alone drew in more than 15 million viewers, a new record for the channel.

Last night’s episode, the sixth of eight scheduled for the season, scored a 4.9 overnight rating for all viewers and was up approximately 200,000 viewers from when the show went head-to-head against last year’s Super Bowl. In the much contested demographic of ages 18 to 49, Downton took home a 1.2 rating and had an average audience of 1.6 million viewers.

The high numbers may be in part because of a strategic marketing push played up by PBS in the days leading up to the Sunday night showdown. By asking fans “Which team are you on?” and pitting football against the more refined airs of the Crawleys and fellow U.K. show Sherlock, the campaign generated 31.5 million potential impressions on Twitter (thanks, #DramaBowlPBS) and almost 1.2 million post views on Facebook.

Ring the bell, please. We think this kind of news deserves a spot of tea.

Source: The Wrap

Elisabeth Kramer is an Assistant Editor at Wetpaint Entertainment and our resident Downton Abbey expert. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!