Downton Abbey headed back to the air in the United Kingdom Sunday night and hit a home run. Or did whatever is good in cricket. The show, which airs on ITV1, pulled down an average audience of 8.6 million viewers, with that number bumped up to more than 9 million when you factor in people who watched on a delay of one hour on catch-up network ITV1+1.
When these numbers are broken down, it had a 34.6 percent market share in Britain, making it the highest-rated ITV drama this year.
The peak audience was 9.3 million (9.6 million when factoring in ITV1+1).
Last season's premiere also landed a 34.6 market share, with an average audience of 9 million on ITV1. So this number is actually a very tiny dip, but I'm sure ITV1 isn't complaining that much. And if it is complaining, at least it has a ton of pound sterlings to provide some comfort.
Downton Abbey more than doubled the audience of the next-ranked network show in the 9-10:30 p.m. time slot.
The show, which stars Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Dan Stevens, Penelope Wilton, Elizabeth McGovern and newcomer Shirley MacLaine, also airs in the U.S. on PBS. It's second season debut stateside drew an average audience of 5.4 million viewers.
The third season debuts in the U.S. early next year.