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Ratings: ‘CMA Awards’ Down But Wins Night For ABC; Fox’s ‘Empire’ Back Strong

UPDATED WITH FINALS:Empire” returned to the Fox lineup nearly on par with its prior episode despite taking a week off, remaining the dominant series on a night carried overall by ABC and the “49th Annual CMA Awards,” even if the kudocast was down double-digits and was at record-low levels.

According to final national estimates from Nielsen, “Empire” averaged a 4.6 rating/14 share in adults 18-49 and 11.68 million viewers overall in the 9 o’clock hour — beating the CMA Awards head-to-head by about 10% in 18-49; it was within a tick or two of its prior two episodes before taking last week off for the network’s coverage of the World Series. It tripled the lead-in of “Rosewood” (1.5/5 in 18-49, 5.05 million viewers overall), which was on par with two weeks ago.

At ABC, the “CMA Awards” telecast averaged a 3.8/12 in 18-49 and 13.62 million viewers overall from 8 to 11 p.m., winning four half-hours in 18-49 and placing second to “Empire” from 9 to 10.  It was down from last year by 16% in 18-49, tying the show’s lowest demo score to date (set in 2012); it’s also off by the same amount in total viewers (from 16.25 million) to what is an all-time low. Despite the lower than usual numbers for the CMAs, this was ABC’s highest-rated night of the television season, and it marked the first time that any network had bested Fox on a night it aired “Empire.”

At CBS, “Survivor” (2.0/7 in 18-49, 8.80 million viewers overall) and “Criminal Minds” (1.5/4 in 18-49, 7.79 million viewers overall) were down, but “Code Black” edged up (1.2/4 in 18-49, 6.44 million viewers overall), pulling within 0.2 of NBC’s “Chicago PD” in 18-49. After years of strong ratings in the Wednesday-at-9 hour, “Criminal Minds,” which typically takes a hit opposite the CMA Awards, hit a series low and fell into a tie in 18-49 with NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” (1.5/5 in 18-49, 6.55 million viewers overall).

“SVU” held at its recent ratings levels despite taking last week off, and this marked the show’s most competitive finish relative to “Criminal Minds” since November of last year with a crossover storyline involving “SVU,” “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago PD.” “The Mysteries of Laura” had a good night leading off for NBC (1.2/4 in 18-49, 7.00 million viewers overall), matching its season high — and actually its highest since last February. At 10 p.m., “Chicago PD” (1.4/5 in 18-49, 6.47 million viewers overall) was down a tenth from last week’s two-hour episode.

At CW, “Arrow” (1.1/4 in 18-49, 2.60 million viewers overall) was up, but the more inconsistent “Supernatural” swung back down (0.6/2 in 18-49, 1.6 million viewers overall). “Arrow,” whose episode introduced the Constantine character, matched its season highs in both adults 18-34 (0.9/4) and women 18-49 (0.9/3).

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