Downton Abbey Ratings Season 4 Premiere PBSThere was mourning, the expected intrigue, dancing and  looming change both upstairs and downstairs last night on the Season 4 premiere of Downton Abbey on PBS. There were also a lot of people watching: Airing at 9 PM, the two-hour episode, which is set in 1922 and takes place six months after the sudden death of Downton heir Matthew Crawley, pulled in 10.2 million viewers. That’s up 22% from the Season 3 debut and a series high for the show, eclipsing the previous record of the Season 3 finale on PBS last February. The third season of the British aristocratic period drama debuted on January 6, 2013, to 7.9 million viewers, which was a strong leap from the 4.2 million who watched the second-season launch on January 9, 2012. Even before this latest cycle started, Downton Abbey has been the highest-rated drama in PBS history.

Related: ‘Downton Abbey’ Gets Fifth Season Order

Its Season 3 finale drew 8.2 million viewers on February 17 last year, a 50% surge from the Season 2 ender in 2012. With a 6.2 household rating, according to Nielsen, it is also the highest-rated drama premiere in PBS history and saw the public broadcaster matched with CBS as the most-watched network last night in its two-hour time slot. In the UK, the fourth cycle of the Julian Fellowes-created and Carnival Films-produced series had its best British debut ever with 9.5 million viewers watching the ITV-broadcasted show on September 22, 2013. The Downton Season 4 finale on November 10, 2013 hit a UK series-record 9.8 million viewers with a 40.2% share. The fifth season of Downtown Abbey has been set to premiere on co-producer PBS’ Masterpiece next January after debuting in the UK in the fall.

12 months
True. Let's hope PBS will make sure to remind viewers often. They deserve every dollar because they...
Herb Finn
12 months
Ratings are all well and good, but how much if this convert into pledges for PBS? Even...