Ratings: Fox’s ‘Empire’ Hits New Highs; ABC’s ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ Gets Good Sampling

UPDATE: In updated national estimates released Thursday afternoon by Nielsen, “Empire” held at its preliminary 4.6/14 in 18-49 while finishing with 11.47 million total viewers. Lead-in “American Idol” picked up a tenth (3.1/10 in 18-49, 11.21 million viewers overall) and pulled a bit closer to the drama in total viewers.

The only other adjustments were downward adjustments for the 9:30 p.m. episode of ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat” (2.3/7 in 18-49, 7.47 million viewers overall) and CW’s “The 100” (0.5/2 in 18-49, 1.51 million viewers overall).


Even the return of an original “Modern Family” couldn’t slow down the steamroller that is Fox’s “Empire,” which hit another demo high Wednesday and grew in overall audience for a fourth straight week following its sizable premiere. Fox dominated the night, as “American Idol” led its timeslot and was up from last week too.

Wednesday also saw positive sampling for ABC comedy “Fresh Off the Boat” before it moves to its regular Tuesday timeslot.

Looking at the Nielsen numbers, “Empire” averaged a best-yet 4.6 rating/14 share in adults 18-49 and 11.5 million viewers overall, building on its “American Idol” lead-in (3.0/10 in 18-49, 10.9 million viewers overall) by more than 50% in the demo and standing as Wednesday’s top program in just about everything from teens 12-17 (2.6/12) to adults 25-54 (5.1/13) as well as total viewers.

In total viewers, it has set a series high with each episode since its premiere: 9.9 million, 10.3 million, 11.1 million, 11. 4 million and now 11.5 million. And in adults 18-49, it has hit three highs since its opener: 3.8, 4.0, 4.4, 4.3 and now 4.6.

Head-to-head, “Empire” beat its closest competition in adults 18-49 (ABC’s comedy hour) by 59% (4.6 vs. 2.9) and more than doubled runner-up ABC in adults 18-34 (3.9 vs. 1.9).  “Empire” also won in total viewers  by 1.2 million over second-place “Criminal Minds” on CBS (10.3 million).

“American Idol,” meanwhile, was up a tick from last week and won its hour across the board. It was the No. 2 show of the night in total viewers.

At ABC, the special preview episode of “Fresh Off the Boat” averaged a 2.5 rating/8 share in adults 18-49 and 7.9 million viewers overall, building in all adult demos from its “The Middle” lead-in (2.5/8 in 18-49, 7.9 million viewers overall). The 2.5 rating ties the series high in the timeslot for ABC with “The Goldbergs,” which will return next week when “Fresh Off the Boat” makes its regular-timeslot premiere.

ABC now has the season’s top two new comedy debuts in 18-49, with “Fresh Off the Boat” behind only “Black-ish” (which had a “Modern Family” lead-in).

(“Boat” may have actually fared better on Wednesday, but the premiere likely caught some viewers by surprise. ABC for weeks had been promoting the show’s “series premiere” as February 10, so any viewers who tune in on that date for the first time will have missed the key pilot episode that aired last night.)

“Modern Family” (3.4/10 in 18-49, 9.9 million viewers overall), back in originals for the first time in three weeks, placed second in demos at 9 p.m. to “Empire” and delivered its top 18-49 score since late October. It tied with “Empire” for its half-hour in men 25-54 (3.6/10) but finished second in all other key 12-54 demos.

A second original episode of “Fresh Off the Boat” at 9:30 p.m. did a 2.4/7 in 18-49 and 7.6 million viewers overall), doing about the same numbers as its 8:30 p.m. telecast and besting the last four originals of “Black-ish” to air in the timeslot for ABC. Closing the night for ABC was the return of “Nashville” (1.3/4 in 18-49, 5.1 million viewers overall), which matched its season low with its first new episode in nearly two months.

At CBS,  “The Mentalist” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 8.9 million viewers overall), “Criminal Minds” (2.0/6 in 18-49, 10.3 million viewers overall) and “Stalker” (1.3/4 in 18-49, 7.3 million viewers overall) were all down slightly from last week and matched or set season lows.

And at NBC, “The Mysteries of Laura” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 6.3 million viewers overall) and “Law & Order: SVU” (1.3/4 in 18-49, 6.2 million viewers overall) both matched the lows they had set with their prior original episodes. Bucking the trend slightly was “Chicago PD” (1.6/5 in 18-49, 7.5 million viewers overall), which was up a tick from its most recent original to match its top score since its season opener.

“PD” benefited from its crossover storyline with “Chicago Fire” from Tuesday, though last night’s conclusion didn’t have nearly the pop of November’s three-storyline crossover stunt.

CW had a pretty good night, with “Arrow” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 2.9 million viewers overall) up a tenth from its most recent original for its second best 18-49 score of the season (behind only its crossover with “The Flash”). And “The 100” (0.6/2 in 18-49, 1.6 million viewers overall) matched its season high.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 3.8/12; ABC, 2.2/7; CBS, 1.5/5; NBC, 1.3/4; Univision, 1.2/4; CW, 0.9/3; Telemundo, 0.6/2.

In total viewers: Fox, 11.2 million; CBS, 8.9 million; ABC, 7.3 million; NBC, 6.7 million; Univision, 3.0 million; CW, 2.2 million; Telemundo, 1.3 million.



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