Downton Abbey Premiere Shatters PBS Ratings Record

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A record number of viewers happily returned to Downton Abbey last night.

The Season 4 premiere of everyone's favorite period drama garnered 10.2 million viewers, making it the highest-rated premiere in network history.

It improved upon the Season 3 premiere audience by 22 percent.
Bates at Breakfast

“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.”

Added Masterpiece producer Rebecca Eaton in a statement:

“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.

Did you catch the opener? If not, you can watch Downton Abbey online right here and now!

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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Downton Abbey Season 4 Episode 1 Quotes

Tom: She loved him very much.
Robert: And the price of great love is great misery when one of you dies.
Tom: I know that.
Robert: Of course you do. I’m very sorry.

But bein’ a nanny. You’re not one of the family, but you’re not one of us either.