'Downton Abbey' Season 4, Episode 2 Ratings Better Than Premiere

Patricia Didelot

Downton Abbey Season 4 Episode 2 did as well, even better than the opener with 9.6 million viewers.

The much anticipated Season 4 is proving why the period drama created by Julian Fellowes is one of the television phenoms of recent years.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, 9.6 million people tuned in to see how Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) continues to cope with the loss of her husband Matthew Crawley played by the departed Dan Stevens.

The hit show returned with a bang to the British channel ITV last weekend after a year of drama related to Stevens' untimely death at the end of Season 3.

Fellowes defended his decision to kill off Matthew for good, but fans weren't so happy about it. Dan Stevens got slammed on social media, and many have still not forgiven him for not renewing for another season.

But life has to move on, and, from the looks of it, viewers are just as interested to watch Downton Abbey, with or without Dan Stevens.

Season 4's premiere was the highest rated episode ever for the series, which has posted some impressive numbers.

In the US, the series shows on PBS but not until January, a fact that has drawn criticism because of online spoilers for the American audience.

Downton Abbey has become one of the most successful series ever for ITV as well as for the American Public network, which saw a historic jump on its ratings.

Last season ended in tragedy for the Grathams, when their heir was killed while happily returning to give the news of the birth of his newborn.

Now Lady Mary must learn to move on without the man she loved and at the same time raise their new baby and now the assumed heir.

Downton Abbey airs on ITV on Sundays at 9 pm.