Sunday's episode of the costume drama set in 1920s Britain became the most-watched PBS drama premiere of all time, with a total audience of 10.2 million viewers, according to Nielsen.
That was up 22% over the Season 3 premiere last year, itself a record for PBS, which typically sees ratings that are a fraction of those of other broadcast networks.
Fan interest for the fourth season has been at a high since last season ended with the unexpected death of the popular "Downton" scion Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens).
The PBS scheduling strategy for "Downton" has become somewhat controversial since the network chooses to air the show months after it is telecast in the U.K. In Britain, "Downton Abbey" closed out its fourth season in November with a season-high audience of 9.8 million viewers.
What did you think of the Season 4 premiere?