PBS sticking to split U.S.-U.K. "Downton Abbey" airing

Lady Mary and Branson with the children on season 4 of "Downton Abbey."
Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE

Fans in the U.S. will still have to wait until winter for new episodes of "Downton Abbey."

PBS' chief executive says she's sticking with airing the acclaimed series after it shows in Britain, spoilers or not.

Paula Kerger said Tuesday the period drama has drawn record ratings for PBS, and the public TV service doesn't want to tinker with success.

"Downton Abbey," which will be entering its fourth season, has been airing in the United States after its U.K. season concludes, allowing plot twists to spill online (like one very notable death last season).

But Kerger says word-of-mouth from the British airing helps create buzz and promotion for the U.S. airing.

"Downton Abbey" will begin its new season on PBS on Jan. 5.