P&O Cruises will be the new sponsor of the third series of the nation’s most popular drama, Downton Abbey.

Idents (short films) featuring P&O Cruises will be shown at the beginning of each episode and either side of commercial breaks. They will be filmed on a P&O Cruises holiday and will show different aspects of the holiday that newcomers particularly enjoy.  Viewers will be encouraged to look on the P&O Cruises website for further insight into the range of holidays available and to have the opportunity to win a cruise. The fully integrated sponsorship package will include broadcast, online and mobile elements as well as social media.

P&O Cruises managing director Carol Marlow said: “We are delighted to sponsor such a celebrated programme as Downton Abbey.  We know that many of our passengers and potential passengers watch Downton Abbey and we are excited to bring P&O Cruises to life for this vast audience.”  

The most recent series of Downton Abbey averaged 11.8 million viewers and a 38% share of the audience, peaking with 12.4 million viewers and a 41% share of the audience on 6th November 2011. Downton Abbey’s Christmas special was also rated as the most-watched Christmas Day show, achieving a consolidated audience of 11.6 million viewers.

ITV Account Sales Manager, Mike Barrett said: "Downton Abbey was the most watched drama of 2011 and has achieved a fantastic 16 nominations for the upcoming Emmy awards. It is with great pleasure that we are able to announce that P&O Cruises will be the new sponsor of this drama phenomenon, and we look forward to working with them to deliver an engaging multi-platform partnership for the coming series."