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14 January 6th, 2014 Downton Abbey Season Four Premiere Breaks Ratings Record With 10.2 Million Viewers!

Courtesy/PBS

The phenomenon that is Downton Abbey just keeps getting stronger!  Last night on PBS Masterpiece Classic, the fourth season two-hour premiere set a new record for the series airings in the United States bringing in at least 10.2 million viewers who tuned in live (or within a few hours via digital video recorders).

Those numbers are up from 7.9 million at the start of season three and 8.2 million for last season’s heartbreaking finale which saw Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) killed-off!.  When all was said and done that’s a 22 percent jump in the ratings, year over year, easily making it the highest-rated drama in PBS history.

In addition to this being a personal best for the British soap opera, it also topped many primetime dramas in the ratings numbers for the night including CBS’ The Good Wife and the return of Revenge on ABC!

Season four of Downton Abbey aired several months ago in the United Kingdom.  PBS has received criticism for its decision to delay the episodes in the United States.  But they say the sky-high ratings two seasons in a row are proof that their scheduling strategy is a wise one.   Paula Kerger, the chief executive of PBS, said in a statement on Monday, “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.”

What do you think of the record breaking numbers from last night for Downton Abbey?  Did you get on the bandwagon and watch the show for the first time?  Or, did you return to see what happens next after season three?  Let us know!

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  1. Sal Piscioneri says:

    The show is great. What about all of us watching that do not get counted. Imagine how much higher the ratings would be if all of us were counted in the ratings?

    Reply

  2. Cathi says:

    An absolutely well written and acted show. From everyone finding out OBrien is gone, the firing of the nanny from hell, Mary’s depression & rise. But the best scenes were Carson letting Mary cry & Maggie Smith in every scene. Welcome back to Sunday nights. Move over American TV the Brits are back & they’re the bezt.

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  3. Mark Y says:

    Support PBS!

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    MikkosC replied

    I’m a $5 a month sustaining member; started before the new year began. I do the same thing with NPR.

    Reply

  4. Kate A says:

    This is such a beautifully written, directed, produced and acted program on television. It is and should be called Masterpiece . It is so nice to watch something that goes into people’s souls instead of constant sex and violence. If only we could have a daytime soap like this! IMO, Y&R comes the closest to this.

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  5. JimR says:

    I actually saw Season 4 of “Downton Abbey” last year when it aired on ITV…Lots of twists, surprises, new characters, shocks, etc…The Christmas episode ranks as one of the best with Shirley Maclaine.

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  6. jimh(leave it to beaver) says:

    Ive seen only bits from seasons past but i consider myself a new viewer this season after watching most of the premier episode!!!

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    Shay replied

    Oh, do catch up on all the previous seasons, jimh….it will be well worth your while! Such an excellent program in all respects…acting, writing, production values, etc. I can view the reruns over and over again and never tire of them…truly the mark of a great show! (Particularly love the intelligent, witty dialogue…the Dowager Countess and Lady Mary are my favorites, although James “Jimmy” Kent is becoming one, too….he’s so adorbs and love his cheeky insouciance!) P.S. Ron C. should take a page from Julian Fellowes’ superb example of writing and storytelling…LOL.

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    jimh(leave it to beaver) replied

    I like Mary and the one who played in Harry Potter…her name escapes me…im new to this show so im not too familiar with it yet…i like that one guy…i think he’s Carson? It brings back fond memories for me…i was a fan of Upstairs, Downstairs which i watch again on utube! I also like Coranation Street…the British do it best!!!

    Shay replied

    Right about Dame Maggie…she is so phenomenal as Violet, I sometimes cannot believe it….love, love, love her!!! I simply thought you were referring to one of the younger cast members as having been part of the Potter franchise, but oh yes, Miss Smith was featured in that successful film series, too! However, I think after this crowning achievement in her long and storied career she is forever going to be identified as the “Dowager Countess.” Superb…absolutely superb she is as the feisty, formidable lady!!!

    Shay replied

    Yes, jimh, the Brits do it best!!! I watch so many of their programs on PBS…mostly the mysteries and period pieces, which I adore, but some Britcoms, too! Used to enjoy “Eastenders,” as well, until they took it off in my area! As for Downton characters, Carson is indeed wonderful….he was amazing in some of the past episodes! Same for Mrs. Hughes, Mrs. Patmore, really almost all of the downstairs people. Just love, love, love this show! The romance between Lady Mary and her late husband, Matthew (sigh…) was so circuitous, but very satisfying when it FINALLY came to fruition. His death was truly heartbreaking, as is his wife’s grief. This program is so rich and complex, it can be discussed for hours, so don’t get me started!!!! But you definitely must check out the previous episodes….they are all soooo good!…P.S. Saw the updated “Upstairs, Downstairs” last year…kind of meh. Never got into Harry Potter, so I’m not sure who you mean…maybe Cora’s new ladies maid, Edna?

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    jimh(leave it to beaver) replied

    Maggie Smith is the one from Harry Potter who plays Violet on Downtown Abbey…as for Upstairs Downstairs i like the original version from the 1970s…the updated version was ok but not as good as the earlier version.

  7. Harlee says:

    Most excellent Downton Abby & The Good Wife proves that prime time soaps live on with great quality and excellent soap writing can be accomplished with the right people….if daytime would get back half of this and which they have lost over the years with repeated stories on doppelgangers, bombs, rewriting histories, etc and see good stories are coming through character-driven actions within will bring in great ratings. The only daytime soap who is serving up some great character stories is DOOL with some excellent high melodrama to boot….is classic soap opera…LOVING IT!

    Reply

  8. Bonnie says:

    Last year a friend told me about Downton Abbey and after listening to him go on and on, I decided to catch up. I watched the entire first 2 seasons just before the third season began. I was captivated and transported, as so many others are.
    I loved the premier episode of this season and I think it was nice to learn something a little personal about Carson.
    And I was astounded that the nanny referred to Sibyl’s daughter as “the chauffer’s child”, as if she had no standing! So glad she is gone…..

    Reply

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