Football or footmen?

Households all over Maine are gearing up for a daunting TV viewing choice on Sunday. They can either watch the AFC Championship game featuring the New England Patriots in its entirety, or they can watch the PBS period drama and pop culture phenomenon known as “Downton Abbey.”

Luckily for Mainers, there is help, in the form of the Maine Public Broadcasting Network’s “Downton Abbey” Football Conflict Support Line.

MPBN, which airs “Downtown Abbey” locally, put out a press release Thursday to announce the effort.  The release says that MPBN officials realize the Patriots game — which starts at 6:30 p.m. – might not be over in time for the 9 p.m. start of Episode 3 of Season 3 of “Downton Abbey.”

So people in conflict over these two must-see viewing experiences can call an automated phone line – 330-4549 – and be directed to alternate viewing times of “Downton Abbey.”

“We recognize that the New England Patriots game may extend past 9 p.m. and ‘Downton Abbey’ fans may not have control of the remote control at that crucial time,” said Cory Morrissey, MPBN Marketing Director, in the release. “We want ‘Downton’ fans to know when and how they will next have access to this episode. It’s a solution we believe the Earl of Grantham would endorse.”

A recorded voice on the “conflict line” tells callers that MPBN will post Sunday’s episode of “Downton Abbey” on the free Video On Demand service found on MPBN.Net on Monday. The  voice also tells viewers “in crisis mode” that MPBN will rebroadcast the episode at 8 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27, to be followed by the usual airing of that week’s episode at 9 p.m.

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