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Strong Ratings For ‘The X-Files’ Revival Make A Case For Another Season
For those of us wondering whether or not the revival of The X-Files on Fox would warrant the kind of buzz that translates into solid ratings, that question has been decisively answered after consecutive airings of the first two episodes on Sunday and Monday night, respectively.
The ratings for the Sunday night premiere undoubtedly got a boost from the NFC Championship game on Fox, which it followed. But there’s no denying that the excitement for the revival was a big factor to the massive numbers the premiere garnered: a whopping 16.2 million viewers with a 6.1 rating. In the age of streaming services and DVR, that is an impressive number.
Positioning itself as the lead-out show after an NFL playoff game is a tactic that’s worked to the X-Files‘ advantage in the past. In 1997, the fourth season’s “Leonard Betts” episode followed Super Bowl XXXI; it became the series’ highest-rated episode of all time with a staggering 29.1 million viewers. That season also happened to have the highest-rated finale in all of its seasons by a wide margin at 19.85 million viewers.
Even though the second episode had a sharp, and understandable, drop in viewership in its regular time slot on Monday, it still dominated its time slot at 9.2 million viewers and a 3.2 rating ahead of such already established shows as Supergirl, Scorpion andNCIS: LA, and the pilot of the comic book series Lucifer.
Last night’s ratings for The X-Files also beat out those of every episode of its time slot predecessor, Gotham, save for the comic book series’ highly anticipated debut. And even then, the X-Files‘ viewership was higher and ratings just one-tenth of a point lower.
The strong ratings make one wonder if this might not be a one-and-done season, after all. Though Chris Carter and the team behind the revival have described it as a miniseries, it sure doesn’t feel like it. The storyline they’ve set up seems far too ambitious to wrap up in four more episodes, and, if there’s anything to be learned from television history, it’s that if a show has ratings, execs will find a way to make multiple seasons of it. Just look at True Detective on HBO, a show that was originally meant to be a single season arc miniseries. Whether or not it was a good idea, it got a second season due to strong ratings and pop culture buzz.
Right now, The X-Files feels less like True Detective, designed to be a true standalone event, and more like Marvel’s Agent Carter on ABC, originally intended to be a one-shot filler for the midseason hiatus of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but designed for longevity if it happened to do well in ratings. The story arc of the X-Files revival so far is following that same pattern: Concise enough to be wrapped up in one season, but open-ended enough so that there’s still lots of story left to tell if the situation should warrant it. And so far, with the ratings being what they are, it absolutely warrants it.