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Downton Abbey’ season 4 premiere is highest-rated drama debut in PBS history


The Season 4 premiere of “Downton Abbey” was the highest-rated drama debut in PBS history.

An average audience of 10.2 million viewers tuned in for Sunday’’s premiere, which boasted a 6.2 household rating — a 22 percent improvement from last year. Season 3′s debut opened to a 5.1 rating and 7.9 million viewers.

““As this captivating drama continues, our audiences have been eagerly awaiting this new season to see what’s next for these beloved characters,”” said PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger. ““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.””

The new season will be available for free streaming on PBS station websites, the PBS Video Portal and PBS’ apps on Xbox, Roku and Apple TV for a limited time after each national broadcast. There have been more than 2.3 million streams of previews and clips across all PBS platforms leading up to the Season 4 premiere, according to Google analytics.

According to Nielsen SocialGuide, a Twitter TV audience of 2.9 million people sent 97,000 tweets during the premiere evening, generating a total of 15.2 million impressions and making it the No. 2 telecast, ranked by Unique Audience, across the whole day and excluding sports events. PBS and MASTERPIECE insiders — as well as moderators from Tom and Lorenzo (@tomandlorenzo), Jarett Wieselman of BuzzFeed (@JarettSays) and special guests including Lesley Nicol (Mrs. Patmore) — will continue to host live discussions during each broadcast to connect directly with fans on social media.

To engage viewers in the series’ premiere, more than 135 local PBS stations hosted premiere screenings in December and January, collectively drawing tens of thousands of fans nationwide. Member stations created events ranging from high teas to dinners to cruises to involve community members in the excitement of the series.

“Downton Abbey” is a Carnival Films/MASTERPIECE Co-Production.