Downton Abbey’s long-awaited fourth season kicked off Sunday night in the UK with a 90-minute episode. Last year’s Season 3 debut episode on ITV1 drew 8.6M viewers, and this year’s first outing averaged 9.5M in the overnights, peaking at 10.5M viewers. It drew a 39.6% share. The Season 3 start was down 200K viewers from Season 2, but it still went on to become the show’s highest-rated season in the UK with consolidated ratings averaging 11.9M viewers for a 40% share. Season 3 of Downton also was PBS’ highest-rated drama ever with a total of 24M viewers, a 7.7 average and an average season audience of 11.5M. Season 4 settles into its 9PM Sunday night slot on ITV1 for seven more weeks and in December will return as usual with an extended Christmas episode. U.S. viewers will see the first Downton episode of Season 4 on January 5th on PBS. Season 4 picks up six months after the untimely death of Downton heir Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens). The focus of this new go-round for the period drama is how his widow, Lady Mary, is coping with the loss, and her efforts at rebuilding her life.
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