Empire is back and as powerful as ever.
The return of Fox’s breakout drama delivered 16 million viewers and a 6.5 rating among adults 18-49 on Wednesday night.
That’s up 76 percent from the show’s series premiere last January, and down only slightly from the show’s all-time high.
Fox also had some good news in the 8 p.m. hour. The series premiere of Rosewood (7.4 million, 2.4 in the demo) performed better than expected. The forensic procedural starring Morris Chestnut managed to self-start and hold its own to tie the return of Survivor in the hour. This was despite Rosewood drawing some of the worst reviews of the new fall crop, averaging only 37 out of 100 on Metacritic.
It’s worth recalling how Empire became a ratings phenomenon last season. Launched out of American Idol, the hip-hop drama starring Terrence Howard as a music mogul was a success out of the gate with 9.8 million viewers and a 3.7 rating. But it’s what happened next that stunned the industry: Empire kept growing and growing and growing, rising nearly every week of its 12-episode run, defying conventional gravity with continued growth, and cresting with its season finale — delivering 17.6 million viewers and a 6.9 rating. (Here’s EW’s Empire return recap).
Empire gave Fox the sort of ratings nitro boost the network hadn’t seen since Idol’s glory days. But with the start of the new season, Fox’s prospects were looking murky. On Monday, Gotham returned low for its second season premiere, and new sci-fi drama Minority Report face-planted. On Tuesday, the network’s seemingly most promising new bet — Scream Queens — delivered a disappointing overnight rating. Empire returning formidable (and possibly Rosewood finding an audience as well) gives the network at least one really strong night.
More to come…