‘Empire’ Returns Strong, Dominates Wednesday Rivals

EMPIRE: Pictured L-R: Jussie Smollett, Trai Byers, Bryshere Gray and Taraji P. Henson in the "A Rose By Any Other Name" episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, April 6 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Chuck Hodes/FOX
EMPIRE: Pictured L-R: Jussie Smollett, Trai Byers, Bryshere Gray and Taraji P. Henson in the “A Rose By Any Other Name” episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, April 6 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Chuck Hodes/FOX

Jussie Smollett, Trai Byers, Bryshere Gray and Taraji P. Henson

Fox’s “Empire” has proven it’s the rare show strong enough to survive a lengthy midseason hiatus, returning Wednesday with surprisingly robust numbers that towered over everything else on the night. 

At a time of the year when better weather and spring breaks contribute to a decline in the number of young adults watching television shows live or same-night, the midseason premiere of “Empire” averaged an impressive 4.7 rating/15 share in adults 18-49 and 12.2 million viewers overall — making it the top-rated regular-timeslot series telecast in the demo on the Big Four networks in 2016. The only series telecasts to rate higher in same-night demo ratings so far this year have been AMC’s “The Walking Dead” (averaging around a 6 in the demo) and the special post-football premiere of “The X-Files” reboot on Fox in January (6.1).

Last night’s result out-rated the final five hours of the show’s 10-episode run last fall, and is its best results since Oct. 21 (4.8/15 in 18-49, 12.3 million viewers overall); its fall finale on Dec. 2 averaged a 4.5 in 18-49 and 11.8 million total viewers. The show’s peak remains its first-season finale in March of last year (6.9/21 in 18-49 and 17.6 million total viewers).

“Empire” was easily the most popular Wednesday television series on Twitter, according to Nielsen Social. An estimated 2.66 million people saw one or more of the 471,000 tweets sent about last night’s episode. The No. 2 series of the night, CBS’ “Criminal Minds,” garnered a unique audience of 1.22 million people who saw one or more of the 36,000 tweets generated about the crime drama.

The return of “Empire” helped re-energize lead-in “Rosewood” (1.4/5 in 18-49, 5.1 million viewers overall), which was up 40% (0.4) week to week. As was the case last fall when it led into “Empire,” “Rosewood” saw a sizable gain in its second half-hour (1.6 from 1.2 in 18-49), suggesting pre-“Empire” tune-in.

Elsewhere, CBS’ “Survivor” again dominated the night’s opening hour (2.1/7 in 18-49, 9.4 million viewers overall), in line with last week. “Criminal Minds” (1.8/6 in 18-49, 9.3 million viewers overall) came back to earth after hitting a 14-month high last week, falling 0.4 opposite the return of “Empire.” Still, the veteran crime drama, featuring the return of Paget Brewster, placed a solid second for its hour and logged its second best rating of the season for an episode facing “Empire.” And at 10 p.m., lead-out “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” (1.4/5 in 18-49, 7.3 million viewers overall) was within a tick of last week (and 0.2 below its March 16 premiere score) despite the softer lead-in.

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Source: Variety | Rick Kissell