Downton Abbey Season 3 DVD
PBS/Carnival Films

“Downton Abbey” continues to be a tremendous success four episodes into its third season. The premiere episode was viewed by more than 7 million viewers, despite the entire season being available months in advance. The real test for PBS will occur on Jan. 29, when fans will get their hands on Blu-Ray and DVD copies of the third season of the hit drama. Will fans stick around to watch weekly episodes of “Downton Abbey” on PBS?

There has been a dilemma regarding PBS’ hit show surrounding the lives of the Crawley family and their servants. Fans have been enthralled by the lush vistas, beautiful costumes, rich design and the daily trappings of the noble and those who have to serve them. PBS has struck gold with “Downton Abbey” and the third season has set itself up to be a tremendous success as there is even more social media presence surrounding every detail and occurrence on the show.

With the stunning death of Lady Sybil Branson on the most recent episode of “Downton Abbey,” which aired in the United States on Sunday on PBS, the water cooler talk has centered on the show and what will happen next. That’s important for any show, and any network would be thrilled that its show was the one that was being talked about, trending worldwide and bringing in great ratings.

The problem with “Downton Abbey” is that it is available elsewhere too. It does not take one well-versed in torrents to discover season three online and available for consumption at the viewer’s demand, not dictated by PBS’ airing schedule, and that has posed quite the dilemma for fans torn between loyalty and legality. In the UK, the season 3 DVDs were released on Nov. 5, 2012, so an American could have picked up a copy and, along with a Phase Alternating Line (PAL) player, and watched the season legally before the U.S. premiere on PBS.

While one method is illegal and the other cumbersome, or at least requires a few more keystrokes and your wallet, “Downton Abbey” will now be available beginning on Jan. 29 at every American retailer and on iTunes, and Netflix will begin shipping DVDs of the season. Totally legal and easy to get, what will happen to “Downton Abbey” on PBS now that viewers can watch the gripping finale before the season’s fifth episode airs?

In fact, some lucky fans were able to get their hands on the DVD early, thanks to some Target stores stocking the shelves before the announced Jan. 29 street date, reports the Denver Post.

It’s almost perfect timing considering the shocking death of Sybil. Fans want to know what will happen and the DVD will be there for them. Will sales be at an all-time high and will fans slowly turn away from the show? PBS does not have to rely on advertising so they won’t be crying foul if fans leave, but it is another interesting layer to debate over “Downton Abbey” airing later in America.