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'Downton Abbey' Season 4 Premiere Sets New Ratings Record

January 7, 2014 (5:01 am) GMT
The British drama series' highly-anticipated return drew 10.2 million viewers last Sunday on PBS.

"" continues outperforming itself, maintaining its title as the most-watched drama series on PBS. On Sunday, January 5, the U.S. premiere of the show's fourth season posted a record-breaking audience of 10.2 million, up 22% from last season's premiere (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," says 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."

"Masterpiece" executive producer Rebecca Eaton also gushes, "I'm delighted to see that the Crawley family's intrigue continues to beguile our viewers. Julian Fellowes has written every word of all four seasons of 'Downton', and I toss him a huge bouquet on behalf of his American fans."

Season 4 of the period drama series has completed its run in England and PBS decided not to move forward the U.S. premiere despite spoiler issue. Kerger said last summer, "We have looked at this whole issue of spoilers and thought about how to best steward the broadcast. We look carefully at the [competition] in the fall schedule with that in mind. We look at how we get promotion and buzz about it -- and that word of mouth has actually benefited us. We don't want to mess with that if it's working so well."

The Fellowes-created series has been renewed for a fifth season. The series creator recently said he's not sure about the show's future beyond the upcoming season 5, telling The Wall Street Journal, "I don't know yet if there is a season 6, but it's not going to go on forever. It won't be 'Perry Mason'."

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