'Downton Abbey' draws record audience for season debut

'Downton Abbey' draws record audience for season debut
This photo released by PBS and Carnival Film and Television Limited shows, from left, Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary, and Joanne Froggatt as Anna Bates, in a scene from season four of the Masterpiece TV series, "Downton Abbey." As it returns for its much-awaited fourth season, "Downton Abbey" remains a series about elegance, tradition and gentility, and the pressures of preserving them. The show premieres Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 9 pm ET on PBS. (AP Photo/PBS/Masterpiece, Nick Briggs)
NEW YORK (AP) - "Downton Abbey" drew a record-breaking audience for Sunday's much-anticipated season premiere.

PBS and WGBH-TV announced Monday that the fourth-season debut of the lush British miniseries attracted 10.2 million viewers, according to Nielsen Fast National data.

This audience improves upon the viewership of the third-season premiere by 22 percent. PBS says it's the highest-rated drama premiere in network history.

The two-hour episode picks up the action six months after the sudden death of Downton heir Matthew Crawley on last season's finale.

"Downton Abbey" airs on the "Masterpiece" anthology, which is presented on PBS by WGBH Boston. Stars include Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery and Maggie Smith.