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'Downton Abbey' finishes strong but down from premiere

"Downton Abbey" wrapped its fourth season -- again, this time in the U.S. -- with piggish ratings, bringing in 8.5 million viewers.

The season ender was up about 300,000 viewers from last season's conclusion, which included the car crash death of Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens), but was down significantly from the 10.2 million the season opener brought in January.

The finale, which gave viewers an epic hand-holding moment between Carson and Mrs. Hughes, placed third for the night, behind the Winter Olympics and "The Walking Dead."

PHOTOS: The 'Downton Abbey' cast without costumes

The period drama's eight-week run averaged 8.3 million viewers, demonstrating, at least, that U.S. viewers aren't letting their frustrations/envy over the U.K.'s fall roll out curb their viewing.

"We are absolutely thrilled that U.S. audiences have again followed 'Downton' so loyally throughout Season 4," read part of executive producer Gareth Neame's "...for a British drama to continue to add millions of viewers is truly wonderful for us all, both behind and in front of the camera.”

Production of the fifth season is currently in progress.

ALSO:

Downton Abbey' recap: Wading into new waters

Edith comes into her own on 'Downton Abbey'

'Dwonton Abbey' adds new characters to season 5

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