'Downton Abbey' U.K. Ratings Rise for Second Episode of Season 4

Downton Abbey - P 2013

UPDATED: The costume drama created by Julian Fellowes averaged 9.6 million viewers a week after returning to ITV with 9.5 million.

LONDON – The second episode of the fourth season of Downton Abbey on Sunday night drew slightly stronger U.K. overnight ratings than the show's best-ever season debut a week earlier.

The season start had attracted an average audience of 9.5 million for Britain's ITV, but Sunday night topped that with an average of 9.6 million. That was also 1.5 million viewers more than the second episode of last year.

The costume drama created by Julian Fellowes drew an average Sunday night share of 39.4 percent of the British TV audience at the time.

It peaked with 10.5 million viewers just like last Sunday. All figures include viewers for ITV1+1, a catch-up network that re-airs the show with an hour delay.

Downton Abbey had finished its third season on ITV1 with a season-high ratings performance, bringing to an end what the network said was the highest-rated season of the show to date when including some delayed same-day viewing.

In the U.S., the show, produced by NBCUniversal's Carnival Films, has been airing on PBS since 2011.

The period drama airs in the 9 p.m. time slot right after Simon Cowell's The X Factor. The music competition on Sunday averaged 9.5 million viewers for a share of 38 percent. It peaked with an audience of 10.9 million.

ITV's overall share in Sunday's British primetime of 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. reached 35 percent with an average audience of 8.1 million, more than 3 million ahead of competitors. 

E-mail: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai