PBS' biggest hit of the last decade, Downton Abbey, arrived in 2010, three years before Netflix streamed its first original, and ended in 2015, two years before Disney, WarnerMedia, NBCUniversal, and Apple all jumped in with their own services. Its journey on streaming has been a microcosm of how this revolution in series delivery made it so hard to find anything. The TV series has been a PBS Passport exclusive, a Peacock exclusive, and a Netflix exclusive at various points, except when it's been available in multiple places. The original film went to HBO Max and was an exclusive there until very recently.
But a new era has begun with Downton Abbey: A New Era. Though it initially aired on PBS, Downton (both the series and the films) were produced by Carnival Films and released via Focus Features, both of which are under the Comcast NBC umbrella. Previously, Focus Features had a deal with Warner for first-run streaming rights. But not anymore. This time, instead of heading to various streaming services owned by other corporations, which will invariably lose the rights to it, the new film is going straight to NBC's streaming service, Peacock.
This example of vertical integration should be a flag for those interested in where to find British content around the various apps on your TV. Knowing which conglomerate your favorite shows or movies trace back to is invaluable in figuring out where it will eventually stream. Not that it's a guarantee or anything, there are monopoly laws that (supposedly) prevent such favoritism and a few lawsuits that have scared companies into behaving. But it's a sign that, as things settle out, companies will keep the rights to their biggest hits close to home.
Here's the film's synopsis:
The beloved cast as they go on a grand journey to the South of France to uncover the mystery of the Dowager Countess’ newly inherited villa, while a Hollywood movie production takes up residence back home.
The cast includes the entire original lineup of Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael, Allen Leech, Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton, Harry Hadden-Paton, and Douglas Reith returning upstairs. Downstairs will feature Jim Carter, Raquel Cassidy, Brendan Coyle, Kevin Doyle, Joanne Froggatt, Michael Fox, Robert James-Collier, Phyllis Logan, Sophie McShera, and Lesley Nicols. Imelda Staunton and Tuppence Middleton return from the first film, and Hugh Dancy, Laura Haddock, Nathalie Baye, Dominic West, and Jonathan Zaccaï join the new faces in the sequel.
For those who did not get a chance to see the Downton sequel when it landed in theaters in May, the quick move to streaming also means that audiences will have a new opportunity to check out A New Era. Though it might not have been the most solid of premises, the franchise still knows what people want and gave it to them in spades. The move from theaters to streaming is a quick turnaround; just a month after its debut in theaters, Downton Abbey: A New Era will land on Peacock starting this weekend.
Downton Abbey: A New Era premieres on Peacock on Friday, June 24, 2022, alongside the first Downton Abbey movie. The original series is available on PBS Passport,