Ratings: ‘The X-Files’ Premiere Scores for Fox; CBS’ Patriots-Broncos Game Draws 53 Million

'The X-Files' Premiere Ratings Solid for
Courtesy Fox

More reliable numbers won’t be available until later today, but Fox’s miniseries return of “The X-Files” opened to predictably strong ratings following an NFL playoff game on Sunday night — and of course the big test will come tonight when it kicks off Monday for the network in its regular timeslot. The drama revival got nowhere near the lead-in it might have gotten if it had followed the late-afternoon AFC Championship game on CBS, which delivered the best rating in decades for the contest deciding which team from the conference advanced to the Super Bowl.

According to Nielsen estimates, the 3:05-6:45 p.m. ET game between the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos on CBS averaged a monster 31.8 household rating/53 share in the overnights, peaking with a 36.6/57 from 6-6:30 p.m. ET. The Broncos’ 20-18 victory, in the 17th matchup all-time of legendary quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, notched the highest rating for the AFC Championship in 29 years (since an overtime contest between Denver and Cleveland on NBC did a 31.9 rating).

It’s also the highest early-window game rating for both the AFC or NFC Championship since 1987, up 9% from last year’s Green Bay-Seattle overtime contest on Fox (29.1/52). In total viewers, the New England-Denver game drew a whopping 53.3 million — the second largest audience for the AFC title game in 39 years (behind only the 54.8 million who watched the New York Jets take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in the late window on CBS in 2011). No early game on Championship Sunday has rated higher since at least 1978, according to CBS records.

As for Fox, the NFC Championship game between the Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers, two teams with considerably less national following, averaged a 26.8 household rating/40 share in the overnights — up 19% from last year’s primetime conference championship game between Indianapolis and New England on CBS (24.2/39) — and 45.7 million total viewers. It didn’t help, of course, that the Arizona-Carolina game turned into a lopsided affair, with the home team Panthers prevailing 49-15 to advance to the Super Bowl for the second time in franchise history.

The lack of drama late in the game did not allow Fox to funnel as many viewers into “The X-Files” as it may have hoped. Nielsen will issue more accurate time zone-adjusted averages later today or tomorrow for the premiere, which started at 10:24 p.m. ET.

Sunday’s preliminary viewership in the 10:30 p.m. half-hour was 13.5 million and a 5.1 rating in adults 18-49, and the program’s averages should be a little higher than this in the nationals (perhaps in the 15 million-to-16 million range). “The X-Files,” which was among the most popular programs in Fox history, peaked in its fourth season (1996-97) when it averaged nearly 20 million viewers per episode. Its all-time high in viewership came on Jan. 26, 1997, when the episode titled “Leonard Betts” averaged 29.1 million viewers when it followed the network’s coverage of the Super Bowl game between New England and Green Bay. Its series finale in 2002 drew 13.2 million viewers.

See More: ‘The X-Files’ Premiere Recap: Lost in Space

Fox is hoping the limited-run return of “The X-Files” can provide a strong ratings lead-in for new drama “Lucifer,” which bows tonight at 9 following the sci-fi series.

Elsewhere on Sunday opposite football and “The X-Files” on Fox, CBS kept the lights on with “60 Minutes” (1.2/3 in 18-49, 8.4 million viewers overall) and repeats of “Madam Secretary” (0.7/2 in 18-49, 5.2 million viewers overall) and “NCIS” on a special night (0.8/2 in 18-49, 5.9 million viewers overall). And NBC did the same with a repeat of 2011 theatrical hit “Bridesmaids” (0.9/3 in 18-49, 2.7 million viewers overall).

ABC struggled to be noticed with its lineup of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (0.8/2 in 18-49, 4.5 million viewers overall), “Galavant” (0.5/1 in 18-49, 2.1 million viewers overall) and a special encore of last Tuesday’s low-rated second-season premiere of “Marvel’s Agent Carter” (0.4/1 in 18-49, 1.4 million viewers overall).

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  1. Rick says:

    Fantastic !
    The Revival if The X Files is the
    Best Thing on T V
    Thank God !
    My family including myself watch reruns
    Of the old tv shows.

    The current generation is not
    CREATIVE !!!
    Go back to the BASICS, STOP SEX ON TV.

  2. The Kevster says:

    Actually you cannot watch it on demand, at least not on my Time Warner Cable system. I like many others DVR’d it and then discovered I only had half the episode, so I didn’t watch it assuming I would be able to catch it on demand. But on the Fox channel it’s not there, only about half a dozen or so behind-the-scenes featurettes. I’m frankly astonished that they don’t have it available to view, given that they have to be aware of the situation on the West Coast. Now I likely won’t be watching it tonight or for the rest of its run because I missed the first episode.

  3. Shawn Shoptaugh says:

    I am tired of sporting events taking away from the time slot of more entertaining programs. I set the premier of The X-Files on the DVR to watch today and what do I find? Football took away thirty minutes of the recording for some post-game whatever. I am left without a conclusion. When your time slot is over, it is over. Stop bleeding over into other programs. Save the bullshit for channels dedicated to that crap.

  4. Nanny Mo says:

    Yeah, we were all really excited until the actors opened their mouths! I will watch tonight’s too, probably because I’m stupid, but if it doesn’t get better (the first part was TERRIBLE!!!!) I’m done. It was the worst X-files ever!

    • Sam says:

      What, the first episode was a stunner! It weaved together almost every known theory and conspiracy theory out there right now into one coherent and weirdly elegant premise for the rest of the series, not to mention catching everyone up with “sordid details following..”
      If you don’t get the theories, the major specifics, or its place and meaning in the ‘present moment’ then yes I can see it confusing people into boredom, though.
      When the show ran in the 90s I just kept my computer on the internet and googled (sorry, Yahoo’d) stuff during commercial breaks. Learned lots.
      Anyway, sincerely hope you enjoy.

    • Henshaw says:

      The series ending was such a mess all those years ago I felt like this first episode would be rough. From all accounts the next two episodes are supposed to be fantastic.

  5. chris says:

    I thought it was brilliant to use the original opening music and photos..like welcoming home old friends. When I saw Mark Snows name..I was like: Right On! I Thought Mulders explanation (catch-up) was spot on. I love the pencils in the ceiling of his old office and had to laugh when Scully says: Even aliens couldn’t find this place.

  6. Sad Fan says:

    Sad how the west coast missed most of the X-Files premier. Really hard to believe we got reruns all night long but not a repeat airing of the X-Files at a normal time. All I have on my DVR is half an episode and no desire to even stream it since they didn’t care enough to show it properly for the west coast.

    • You can watch the full episode on Fox’s site or pretty much anywhere online.

    • That’s the spirit. Take your frustration out on the show you claim to be a fan of. Sharp thinking.

      • Nanny Mo says:

        No, that’s not it. The show could have been great (and maybe part 2 will be) but last night’s episode was death. The actors looked bored and the pacing was so slow as to be sleep-putting. The first half of the episode was Mulder asking questions in response to Scully asking him questions. It was a snore-fest and it didn’t have to be. Yes, there are fans, don’t disappoint them after 14 years!

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