By Nuzhat Naoreen
December 06, 2012 at 05:43 PM EST
Carnival Film & Television

Good news Downton Abbey fans. Though U.S. viewers have to wait until Jan. 6—that’s more than four months after the U.K. premiere date—to catch the series’ third season, they may get to see season four much sooner than expected. PBS is weighing broadcasting the fourth season, which starts shooting in February, close to the U.K. debut this fall.

“Obviously, spoilers and piracy are two key reasons supporting the case to air Downton closer to the UK broadcast,” MASTERPIECE publicist Olivia Wong told EW in an e-mail. “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).”

Ratings are also a factor in determining Downton‘s return date.

“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,” says Wong.

Now if we could just convince Dan Stevens, who plays Matthew Crawley, to stick around for the season…

Read More:

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Would you watch ‘Downton Abbey’ without Matthew Crawley? POLL

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‘Downton Abbey’ season 3 UK premiere ratings solid

The war is over, but intrigue, crisis, romance, and change still grip the beloved estate.
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