Seth MacFarlane’s ‘The Orville’ Lands Broadcast’s Top Drama Premiere Since ‘This Is Us’

Sci-fi show had the NFL’s opening Sunday as its giant lead-in

The Orville

First things first: Seth MacFarlane’s “The Orville” is technically a drama. It is an hour-long show, and that’s just how it works — right, “Orange Is the New Black”?

Now that we’ve got that out of the way: “The Orville” just landed broadcast’s best series premiere for a drama since NBC’s “This Is Us” debuted just over a year ago. (We’re excluding post-Super Bowl premieres, by the way, because that’s just unfair.)

In time-zone adjusted final Nielsen numbers, MacFarlane’s out-of-this-world vehicle drew a 2.8 rating in the key 18-49 demographic on Sunday, and 8.6 million total viewers that night. The 2.8 is actually tied for the best rating of any broadcast entertainment show since the “This Is Us” season finale aired in May.

There’s obviously a lot of things to note in this post, and here’s another: Nielsen’s Florida data-collection center was evacuated for Hurricane Irma, causing reporting delays from Sunday through Tuesday, which explains why we’re sharing Sunday night numbers for the first time on a Wednesday. And then there was football to unpack out of Fox’s first figures, as live sports impact primetime’s initial averages. Now here we are.

But speaking of football, this Sunday was the NFL’s 2017 opening weekend, which is a big deal for the television industry and has a large (positive) influence on the shows that air immediately afterward, which explains away at least some of “The Orville’s” success. (“This Is Us” started out of “The Voice,” which is no slouch itself.)

After this coming Sunday, however, the space dramedy will move to its regular Thursdays at 9 p.m. time slot, with “Gotham” as its (much lower-rated) lead-in. So, ah, good luck with those Week 3 comparisons, Seth.