By Sandra Gonzalez
September 17, 2012 at 06:33 PM EDT
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It’s no secret that EW has been excited about the return of Downton Abbey. And, apparently, the UK was just as excited.

The show’s third season — er, series — premiered last night on ITV1, nabbing 9 million viewers, a peak of 9.6 million, and a 36 percent share, according to the network. These figures include the number of viewers who watched the premiere on delay via sister network ITV1+1. (In the U.K., “share” represents the total number of people watching TV at a given time.)

The ratings share is on par with Abbey‘s performance last year, said the network. But in total viewers, the show was down a tick from last year’s 9.3 million.

Abbey is still the highest rating drama on ITV1 so far this year, however, and easily bested its timeslot competition, drawing nearly double the audience.

The show’s third season premieres in January on PBS.

Related:

Dan Stevens talks weddings and babies on ‘Downton Abbey’

Ralph Lauren to sponsor PBS’ ‘Masterpiece,’ create ‘Downton Abbey’ ads

The war is over, but intrigue, crisis, romance, and change still grip the beloved estate.
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