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For many years now, networks have used the Super Bowl as a lead-in for heavily promoted new shows and the return of fan favorites – or in this year’s case, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert – but everyone is slowly getting wise to adopting that same strategy using the NFL’s playoff and championship games to frontload the potential ratings. Sunday night’s NFC Championship was about as one-sided as games get, but the telecast’s huge audience helped to give the X-Files revival premiere the kind of ratings that probably inspired a massive sigh of relief at Fox.
Though the numbers aren’t set in stone just yet, preliminary results are showing that the first installment of The X-Files miniseries, dubbed “My Struggle,” was watched by nearly 13.47 million people, making it one of Fox’s most impressive debuts in ages. (It definitely spanked the pants off of all the 2015 premieres, including Empire, Rosewood, Scream Queens and Wayward Pines.) The episode also topped everything else on broadcast TV last night that didn’t involve the Arizona Cardinals getting pummeled by the Carolina Panthers, with only the two hours of 60 Minutes coming anywhere close.
Part of the problem with getting exact numbers for the X-Files premiere involves the NFL game running over its projected timeslot, which is something that happens pretty much every time a game airs prior to the primetime hours. Fox got a lot of blowback for this, as many people’s DVRs did not adjust to the sci-fi hit’s belated start time, which was pushed back around 25 minutes or so, and they weren’t able to watch the whole episode as planned. So it stands to reason that the delayed ratings for the episode will be even more gigantic.
The total number of viewers wasn’t the only win for Fox, as The X-Files debut also earned a whopping 5.1 rating in the key 18-49 demographic, according to TV by the Numbers. In comparison, the NFC Championship got a jaw-dropping 14.3 demo rating, but even new episodes of ratings juggernaut The Big Bang Theory usually pull in less than a 4.0 rating with the 18-49 crowd, so The X-Files was sitting pretty. If that number holds up, then Fox might just be confident enough to order more X-Files for next year, although maybe they should offer Gillian Anderson a suitable amount of money next time.
You can find the second part of the premiere, titled “Founder’s Mutation,” airing tonight, Monday, January 25, on Fox at 8 p.m. ET, with the following four episodes all airing on Mondays we well. Will a similar-sized audience show up for Round 2, or was the NFL’s gigantic influence the real reason for viewer turnout? Let us know what you thought of the premiere below.
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