TV Ratings: 'The X-Files' Reopens Big for Fox

Early returns bode well for the Fox drama, while Sunday belongs to the AFC (53.3 million viewers) and NFC (45.7 million viewers) championship games.
Courtesy of FOX

Expect a strong tally for The X-Files when all is said and done. Early overnight ratings for the event series' debut, which are quite handsome, should translate to strong viewership once time zone adjustments arrive.

The one-hour telecast, which aired on both coasts after Fox's coverage of the NFC championship game, averaged just over an 11 rating among metered market households between 10:15 and 11:15 p.m. PT. (For a crude comparison, that's better than the most recent GOP debates.) Stats are particularly tentative given the episode's start time, just after 10:20 p.m. on the East Coast and 7:20 p.m. on the West Coast. The premiere had one of the bigger lead-ins imaginable, albeit the Carolina Panthers' blowout over the Arizona Cardinals would have been much bigger had it been a more competitive game.

Fox will be tight-lipped about the ratings until initial time-shifting arrives. The X-Files marks the first big premiere since the network officially turned its back on same-day ratings in November, favoring bigger and more optimistic DVR and multiplatform stats.

The X-Files franchise was much bigger in its heyday than Fox's last stab at an eventized revival, 24. The show maxed out at 27 million viewers, and the first film grossed $190 million at the 1998 box office. But The X-Files is also much further in the rearview. The last episode of the original series aired in May 2002.

As for the NFL, the NFC championship showdown was down from the comparable primetime outing last year — though it still averaged a whopping 45.7 million viewers in primetime. The earlier AFC championship game, on CBS, proved to be a much bigger draw. The nail-biter between the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos averaged a 53.3 million viewers. That makes it the second-most watched AFC conference title match-up in 39 years.