'Downton Abbey' scores its highest U.K. premiere numbers

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And so the temptation to look at online spoilers begins. Downton Abbey‘s fourth season debuted in Britain Sunday night and averaged 9.5 million viewers, according to ITV. That’s a huge 39.7 percent share, The Guardian reports, nearly twice the percentage of American audiences that typically tune in to watch the U.S.’s top program, NBC’s Sunday night NFL game.

The season 4 premiere was up half a million from the 9 million viewers who tuned in for the start of season 2 and season 3. The series premiere averaged 7.7 million in 2010.

Season 4 debuts Jan. 5 in the U.S. on PBS.

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