Downton scores more than 10 million viewers, sets PBS premiere record

By Andrew Lapin

The fourth-season premiere of Downton Abbey, with Charles Edwards and Laura Carmichael, broke PBS ratings records. (Photo: Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television)

The fourth-season premiere of Downton Abbey, with Charles Edwards and Laura Carmichael, broke PBS ratings records. (Photo: Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television)

The much-anticipated fourth season premiere of Downton Abbey on PBS’s Masterpiece Classic drew an average audience of 10.2 million viewers on Sunday, good enough to make the two-hour episode the highest rated drama premiere in PBS history, according to PBS. The episode earned a 6.2 household rating in Nielsen Fast National data, putting PBS in a tie with CBS as the most watched network on Jan. 5.

Viewership improved more than 20 percent over last year’s third-season premiere of the program, which netted 7.9 million viewers for a 5.1 household rating.

“I’m so pleased that millions of viewers have returned to Downton Abbey on their local PBS stations for what has become a post-holiday tradition,” PBS President Paula Kerger said in a statement.

Twitter fans in the audience sent 97,000 tweets during the broadcast. PBS’s social media team moderated live-tweeting sessions for the episode’s East and West Coast premieres, with contributions from Downton actress Leslie Nicol, comedian Patton Oswalt, BuzzFeed editor Jarett Wieselman and others.

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