Red Dwarf X premiered on UKTV channel Dave to an average audience of 1.46m (6.3%) in the 9pm slot, according to early ratings figures.
The new episode, 'Trojan', represents UKTV's second most-watched broadcast in its 20-year history, behind Red Dwarf's 21st reunion special in 2009.
However, the sci-fi comedy had tough competition from the Europa League on ITV4, coverage of which scored 1.39m (6.9%) between 5.30pm and 10.30pm, and stayed above 2m during the 9pm hour when Red Dwarf was on air.
At the same time, BBC Four's repeat of Norman Wisdom: His Story interested 774k (3.3%), Russell Howard's Good News fell to 669k (2.9%) on BBC Three, and The X Factor USA took 685k (3%) between 8pm and 10pm (+1: 126k/0.6%) as it entered its second week.
Celebrity Juice, despite pulling in 1.31m (7.3%) at 10pm (+1: 225k/2.3%), fell to third place in the multichannel league table.
Over on the terrestrial channels, new drama Hunted launched with 4.46m (19.3%) on BBC One, thrashing ITV1's Homefront in the 9pm battle - the military drama mustered 2.3m (10%) as well as 268k (1.6%) on ITV1 +1.
Meanwhile, The Choir dipped to 2.27m (9.9%), and Hotel GB continued with 1.37m (5.9%) on Channel 4 (+1: 209k/1.2%).
Heroes of the Skies was Channel 5's best audience of the evening with 817k (3.6%) at 8pm, but finished bottom in its slot behind Wartime Farm (2.32m/10.3%) and Location, Location, Location, which grabbed 1.82m (8%) for Channel 4 (+1: 228k/1%).
Overall, BBC One topped primetime with 20.1% over ITV1's 14.5% (+1: 0.7%). BBC Two claimed third place with 8.2%, above ITV4's 7.5%, Channel 4's 5.5% (+1: 0.8%), ITV2's 3.4% (+1: 0.5%) and Channel 5's 3.2% (+1: 0.2%).
BARB ratings data supplied by Attentional
Watch the cast of Red Dwarf telling Digital Spy about the show's best moments below: