“Sherlock” opened its fourth season on PBS on New Year’s Day with a slightly smaller audience — though still one that’s plenty solid for the public broadcaster.

“The Six Thatchers,” the first of three “Sherlock” installments for its fourth series, debuted to 3.7 million viewers on Sunday night. That’s down a modest amount (7.5 percent) from the 4 million — which, incidentally, was a record for the series on PBS — who watched the Season 3 debut way back in January 2014.

Sunday’s broadcast is also up a little from the New Year’s 2016 airing of the one-off special “The Abominable Bride,” which drew about 3.4 million people.

In the U.K., “The Six Thatchers” delivered 8.1 million viewers for BBC One, easily leading the country’s charts for the day but down from the 9.2 million who watched the Season 3 premiere in 2014. It was also down slightly from the 8.4 million who watched “The Abominable Bride” in the U.K. last year.

Declines or not, “Sherlock” is still among the top draws for PBS, particularly now that “Downton Abbey” has finished its run. The network will try to recapture some of that audience with “Victoria,” whose Jan. 15 premiere will lead into the last of the three “Sherlock” films of Season 4.

Posted by:Rick Porter

Rick Porter has been covering TV since the days when networks sent screeners on VHS, one of which was a teaser for the first season of "American Idol." He's left-handed, makes a very solid grilled cheese and has been editor of TV by the Numbers since October 2015. He lives in Austin.

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