Downton Abbey,” the most popular drama in PBS history, returned to a near-record audience Sunday night.

According to Nielsen preliminary estimates, the fifth-season premiere of thr Carnival Films/Masterpiece co-production averaged about 10.1 million viewers from 10:15 to 11:15 p.m., just a smidge behind the show’s fourth-season opener a year ago (10.2 million). Among all networks, only CBS drew a larger audience during the time period.

Nielsen also said the “Downton” premiere attracted a Twitter audience of 1.6 million people, who saw more than 48,000 tweets during the premiere evening, generating a total of 6.3 million impressions.

The program has generally seen increased viewership from season to season. It drew about 4.2 million for its 2012 premiere, and then 7.9 million as it kicked off its 2013 season.