Fox just announced three early series renewals — and one is really early.
As expected, the network has picked up Gotham for a second season and Brooklyn Nine-Nine for a third season.
But far less expected (at least this soon) is that Fox has renewed hip-hop drama Empire for a second season.
The move is partly surprising (in that it’s very unusual for a broadcaster to renew a series so fast, though it occasionally happens on cable) and yet not given the show’s stunning ratings this week. Empire‘s premiere episode tied How to Get Away with Murder as the season’s highest-rated series debut among adults 18-49. The second episode then stunned the industry by rising in the ratings — which is a very rare occurrence, especially after a strong debut (Empire is the only drama to rise in Week 2 this season).
Gotham has averaged a 4.2 rating the demo and 10.6 million viewers when including DVR playback, Empire has averaged a 5.3 in the demo and 11.7 million viewers and Brooklyn Nine-Nine has a 2.7 in the demo.
The success of all three shows is much-needed at Fox, which ranked fourth this fall and declined more than any other broadcaster compared to the previous year. Gotham declined a bit from its debut, but has settled into a stable-seeming groove on Monday nights. Brooklyn Nine-Nine has seemed to flourish since moving to Sunday nights this season. Empire is still at a stage when most industry insiders would say it’s too early to bet the farm on the drama, yet the first two weeks were hugely promising. It’s worth pointing out all three shows were greenlit under Fox’s previous programming chief Kevin Reilly, who was ousted from the network last summer and is now taking the reins at TNT.
Still to come on Fox this season is cop drama Backstrom starring Rainn Wilson as an irascible detective, the intriguingly high concept one-man sitcom Last Man on Earth starring Will Forte and the limited series thriller Wayward Pines starring Matt Dillon.
As for the fates of some of Fox’s other dramas, the network plans to tweak Sleepy Hollow before making a decision on a third season, while Bones seems likely to return for season 11. “We’re at the end of our deal on Emily [Deschanel] and David [Boreanaz],” Fox Chairman and CEO Dana Walden said at TCA’s winter press tour. “We’re very hopeful Bones will return. We can’t announce it today because deals aren’t closed, [but] nothing will make us happier.”