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Wednesday Ratings: Fox’s ‘Empire’ Hits New High with Sixth Week of Growth

UPDATE: In updated ratings released Thursday afternoon by Nielsen, Fox’s “Empire” was revised up a tenth in 18-49 (5.2/15) while moving above the 13-million mark in total viewers for the first time (13.02 million).  As a result, it gained week to week by a big 8% in the demo and 9% in total viewers; and vs. its premiere on Jan. 7, it’s up 37% in 18-49 and 32% in total viewers.

Its updated track in total viewers: 9.90 million (Jan. 7), 10.32 million (Jan. 14), 11.07 million (Jan. 21), 11.35 million (Jan. 28), 11.47 million (Feb. 4), 11.96 million (Feb. 18) and 13.02 million (Feb. 18). And in adults 18-49 rating/share: 3.8/11, 4.0/12, 4.4/13, 4.3/13, 4.6/14, 4.8/15 and 5.2/15.

According to Nielsen Social Guide/Twitter estimates, last night’s “Empire” generated a whopping 615,461 tweets during its on-air broadcast. By comparison, AMC’s “The Walking Dead” drew 243,986 on Sunday.

Lead-in “American Idol” was also revised upward (2.8/9 in 18-49, 10.70 million viewers overall), leaving it even with the previous week in the demo.

Elsewhere, ABC’s “Modern Family” gained a tenth in the nationals (3.1/9 in 18-49, 8.80 million viewers overall) and CBS’ “Stalker” lost a tick (1.2/4 in 18-49, 6.74 million viewers overall) to place third among the major networks in 18-49 for the 10 o’clock hour.

At CW, “Arrow” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 2.91 million viewers overall) picked up a tenth, but “The 100” was revised down as usual (0.5/1 in 18-49, 1.42 million viewers overall).

Of note on cable was a strong performance by ESPN’s college basketball game between Duke and North Carolina, which averaged a 1.7/6 in 18-49 and 4.14 million viewers overall from 9-11:44 p.m. ET.


Primetime television has never seen a ratings growth story like Fox’s “Empire,” which continued to defy the odds on Wednesday night by drawing a series-high audience for a sixth consecutive week.

According to Nielsen estimates, “Empire” averaged a 5.1 rating/15 share in adults 18-49 and 12.9 million viewers overall in the 9 o’clock half-hour — up 6% (0.3) in the demo and gaining nearly 1 million total viewers (from 11.96 million) vs. last week. It built by a best-yet 89% in 18-49 over its “American Idol” lead-in (2.7/9 in 18-49, 10.5 million viewers overall), with the music competition about on par with last week and sweeping its hour.

Since bowing with 9.9 million viewers on Jan. 7, “Empire” has grown with each week in total viewers: 10.32 million, 11.07 million, 11.35 million, 11.47 million, 11.96 million and now roughly 12.9 million. In 18-49, it has set highs with five of its six episodes following its premiere, which did a 3.8 rating/11 share: 4.0/12, 4.4/13, 4.3/13, 4.6/14, 4.8/15 and now 5.1/15.

Compared to its premiere, last night’s “Empire” was up 34% in adults 18-49, 55% in adults 18-34 and 30% in total viewers.

The only drama to bag a higher 18-49 rating for any regular telecast in recent years has been AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” The last broadcast drama to hit a 5 demo rating was ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” more than four years ago.

Fox crushed the competition on Wednesday, with its two-hour 18-49 average (3.9 rating/12 share) besting the combined three-hour totals of second-place ABC (2.0/6) and third-place NBC (1.4/4).

Elsewhere, ABC’s “Modern Family” was Wednesday’s No. 2 program in demos (3.0/9 in 18-49, 8.8 million viewers overall) but down two or three tenths from last week (depending of whether it’s revised up to a 3.1 in the nationals as expected). The rest of the net’s comedies held up better, with “The Middle” (2.2/7 in 18-49, 7.7 million viewers overall) and “Black-ish” (2.2/6 in 18-49, 6.5 million viewers overall) up a tenth and “The Goldbergs” steady (2.2/7 in 18-49, 6.8 million viewers overall). If it holds in the nationals, this would be the top score for “Black-ish” in its four original episodes to air in 2015.

“Nashville” was down a tenth at 10 (1.3/4 in 18-49, 4.7 million viewers overall).

NBC had a pretty good night as “The Mysteries of Laura” (1.1/3 in 18-49, 5.8 million viewers overall), “Law & Order: SVU” (1.6/4 in 18-49, 6.4 million viewers overall) and “Chicago PD” (1.7/5 in 18-49, 7.0 million viewers overall) all posted gains from last week. These are the best 2015 scores to date for “Laura” and “SVU,” while “Chicago PD” had its best score since its November crossover episode with “Chicago Fire” and “Law & Order: SVU.”

“SVU” seemed to benefit from the absence of “Criminal Minds” in its 9 p.m. timeslot, as CBS aired the lower-rated “The Mentalist” from 8 to 10. The Simon Baker drama’s series finale averaged a 1.3/4 in 18-49 and 10.2 million viewers overall, about what it did in the demo with its hourlong episode of last week. In total viewers, this was the best score for “The Mentalist” since its season premiere on a Sunday in late November.

Closing the night for the Eye, “Stalker” (1.3/4 in 18-49, 7.2 million viewers overall) was down a tenth from last week.

CW was up a bit with “Arrow” (1.1/4 in 18-49, 2.8 million viewers overall) and “The 100” (0.6/2 in 18-49, 1.5 million viewers overall), though the latter has consistently been revised down to a 0.5 in the nationals.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 3.9/12; ABC, 2.0/6; NBC, 1.4/4; CBS, 1.3/4; Univision, 1.1/3; CW, 0.8/3; Telemundo, 0.6/2.

In total viewers: Fox, 11.7 million; CBS, 9.2 million; ABC, 6.5 million; NBC, 6.3 million; Univision, 2.9 million; CW, 2.2 million; Telemundo, 1.4 million.

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