Having missed out on a proper fall TV premiere due to the size and scope of its production, The Orville finally returned to Fox in the final days of 2018 to give its Season 2 premiere a celebratory boost. That plan seemingly worked well for the space-faring dramedy. Even though its second season premiere numbers were down overall compared to the series premiere's surprisingly high ratings, The Orville did indeed improve upon last year's averages, which is a great sign for weeks to come.
Let's break down some of those numbers, starting off with the more optimistic details. Airing in the lucrative post-NFL time slot, The Orville's "Ja'loja" was watched by around 5.6 million viewers. It's not the biggest audience in the world, but that total was a marked improvement on Season 1's average viewership, which added up to around 4.3 million viewers. As well, the premiere total shows off a rise in viewers when compared to the Season 1 finale from last December, which had a 3.54 million-strong audience.
Thankfully, The Orville's demo rating also rose alongside the total audience numbers. The Season 2 premiere earned a 1.5 rating with viewers aged 18-49, according to Variety, which beat out the first season average (1.25) and the finale's rating (0.9). All in all, "Ja'loja" scored the Fox series' best numbers since Episode 2, which also marked the show's last Sunday telecast after an NFL game.
It's clear that The Orville owes its pro football lead-in for the numbers being as high as they were. The viewership might have been even more impressive, too, had the premiere aired a week earlier, since the NFL's final week of the regular season often features games of little to no importance, with playoff scenarios mostly locked up. Not to mention it was the day before New Year's Eve.
To that end, the premiere numbers definitely drooped when slotted up against just how well the Season 1 debut fared back in September 2017, where it was watched by 8.56 million people, earning a whopping 2.7 demo rating. It's doubtful that The Orville will attain such lofty stats again, depending on how things play out through the spring, but it's never a bad sign when a show's most recent episode is its third most successful one overall.
All things considered, The Orville's audience is probably larger than anyone could have expected for an episode whose plot centered on a character's urination celebration. (Which somehow isn't already the name of a Big Bang Theory episode.) Premiere spoilers are below the image, so be warned.
With "Ja'loja," The Orville was firing on most cylinders, wisely starting Season 2 off with a character-heavy episode, as opposed to an opener that mutes development in the face big, complicated plotlines. The crew took a trip to Bortus' home planet so that he could complete his once-a-year pee ritual, which provided the expectedly strange balance between sophomoric humor and genuine compassion.
As well, the episode introduced Jason Alexander's new character Olix and Michaela McManus' new crew member Janel, and also took time to set up the various characters' more emotion-driven troubles: Ed and Kelly's failing relationship potential, Finn's troubles with her son, Alara and Malloy's respective problems finding romance, etc. It was an enjoyable romp that made me excited to see what'll happen with all the other new characters coming.