The X-Files made its grand return for season 11 last night, but the ratings took a huge hit from what the series drew for season 10. One of the biggest hits of the 90s, The X-Files served as one of the first major entries in the current wave of TV revivals when it returned to the small screen in January 2016 after more than a decade off the air. Season 10 proved to be a big hit for FOX, making it unsurprising when the network ordered season 11.
Unfortunately, it looks like season 11 is unlikely to make the same type of ratings waves as season 10. On one level, that's not too shocking, as overall TV ratings continue to trend downward across the board. Even The Walking Dead - the #1 rated scripted series in all of TV - continues to fall to numbers it hasn't seen since season 2. Perhaps the biggest evidence of an overall downward trajectory when it comes to TV are the ratings for NBC's sports juggernaut Sunday Night Football, which regularly tops anything else on the big four broadcast networks. The NFL still currently wins the ratings game, but not by nearly the wide margins it used to.
According to Variety, last night's season 11 premiere of The X-Files earned an overnight rating of 1.4 in the key 18-49 viewer demographic. That's down a massive 77 percent from the 6.2 season 10's premiere earned. Season 11's debut also drew in some 5.2 million total viewers, a big drop from the 16.2 million that watched season 10's kickoff.
Beyond the base numbers though, there is some other important information to consider. Some will be quick to defend the ratings performance of X-Files season 11's premiere by pointing out that season 10 had the benefit of premiering right after the 2016 NFC Championship game, which partially explains the drop from season to season being so big. However, even when compared to the ratings for the second episode of season 10 - which didn't follow the NFL - season 11's premiere is way down. Episode two of season 10 scored a 3.2, still handily topping season 11's heavily hyped debut.
In fact, the lowest any episode of The X-Files season 10 fell in the ratings was a 2.1, making it very worrying that the season 11 premiere did so poorly. Season premieres and finales tend to be some of the highest rated episodes of a given season, so if season 11 started with a 1.4, it's likely to end up around a 1.2 or lower next week. That said, with Gillian Anderson saying she won't come back for a potential season 12 - and Chris Carter indicating he likely wouldn't want to continue the series without her - ratings issues may end up being moot, as The X-Files once again rides off into the sunset.
The X-Files season 11 airs Wednesdays on FOX.