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3-Day Ratings: ‘Empire’ Tops Week; ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ Down, Still Potent

In Crowded Sunday Timeslot, ABC's 'The Family' Adds Viewers

Empire recap season 2 episode 15
Courtesy of Fox

The return of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” sent AMC’s “Fear the Walking Dead” to lower ratings Sunday night, but the zombie drama held up pretty well and finished among the week’s top five programs — broadcast and cable — in 3-day ratings for adults under 50. The Sunday-at-9 hour is shaping up as one of the most interesting across the week, as it also includes the soon-to-depart “The Good Wife” on CBS and the gradually improving “The Family” on ABC.

Overall for the week of April 18-24, Fox’s “Empire” was the No. 1 program in adults 18-49 in Nielsen’s “live plus-3” estimates, which include three-day DVR playback and VOD where available. It did a 5.2 rating in the demo in three days, jumping 1.5 points (or 41%) from its “live plus same-day” average and off a tick from the previous week.

CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” ranked second with a 4.8 in the 18-49 demo (up 50% or 1.6 points from its same-day average), rising 0.2 from its most recent original of two weeks ago. It was first among all programs for the week in total viewers, going from 14.16 million “same-day” viewers to 18.07 million in L+3, and No. 1 in adults 25-54 as well (6.5).

Demo ratings aren’t all that relevant to HBO’s business model, but it’s always interesting to see where its shows stack up relative to the competition. Sunday’s season six premiere of “Game of Thrones” tied with “Big Bang Theory” at a 4.8 rating in adults 18-49 — up a fairly modest 20% from its same-day total, suggesting that it truly was must-see Sunday  viewing for its hard-core fans.

The 4.8 rating in L+3 was down 8% from a 5.2 series high for “Game of Thrones” set both with last season’s premiere and finale. In total viewers, this year’s premiere audience (9.58 million) is the third largest to date for the show in the L+3 window, behind the slightly more than 10 million viewers for last year’s opener (10.07 million) and closer (10.08 million).

At AMC, “Fear the Walking Dead” (3.3 rating in adults 18-49, 6.99 million viewers overall in L+3) delivered its lowest numbers to date, off 11% week to week. Still, it placed fourth among all primetime programs for the week in 18-49, a tick above fifth-place “Grey’s Anatomy” on ABC (3.2). “Fear” grew by larger percentages than usual — up 48% in total viewers and 56% in adults 18-49 — in large part due to facing “Game of Thrones” as regular-timeslot competition. This was the second largest percentage lifts in nine episodes to date for “Fear.”

In the same Sunday-at-9 hour, CBS’ “The Good Wife,” which ends its seven-season run on May 8, averaged a 1.37 rating in adults 18-49 last week — up 4% from the previous week (1.32) and its highest since March 20. In total viewers, its 10.34 million was the show’s largest since January and finished ahead of “Game of Thrones” for No. 1 in the Sunday-at-9 time period.

ABC’s “The Family” (4.33 million in L+3) remains low-rated but continues to quietly increase its 18-49 rating. Last week’s 1.31 in the demo was up 5% from the previous week and the show’s best since a 1.35 for its Sunday premiere on March 6. In same-day ratings, it has increased its 18-49 audience for four straight weeks.

“The Family” is getting a bigger push from “Once Upon a Time” (1.80 rating in 18-49, 5.17 million viewers overall), which was up 5% to its top demo score since March 13. Closing the night for ABC, “Quantico” (1.81 in 18-49, 5.74 million) was on par with the previous week and is now neck and neck with “Once” as ABC’s top show after earning that honor rather easily last fall.

“Quantico” is still seeing some of the biggest percentage lifts of all primetime programs, last week rising 87% from same-day (0.97) to L+3 (1.81). The other top-100 programs to rise by 70% or more in 18-49 rating last week were: AMC’s “Better Call Saul” (+117%, 0.85 to 1.84), History’s “Vikings” (+91%, 0.70 to 1.34), MTV’s “Teen Mom” (+86%, 0.94 to 1.76), Bravo’s “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” (+78%, 0.73 to 1.30), CBS’ “Elementary” (+75%, 0.72 to 1.27) and NBC’s “The Blacklist” (+74%, 1.34 to 2.33).

For “Better Call Saul,” its season two finale was down about 15% from last year. Among all cable shows this television season in L+3, “Better Call Saul” ranks No. 7 in adults 18-49 (1.87 rating) and No. 8 in total viewers (2.57 million).

Looking at HBO in L+3, “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” and “Silicon Valley” drew 2.36 million viewers to tie as No. 2 for the week, behind “Game of Thrones.” They were followed by “Real Time with Bill Maher” (1.76 million), “Veep” (1.52 million) and Saturday’s Beyonce special “Lemonade” (1.00 million).

At Showtime, “House of Lies” dropped to 592,000 but it’s still looking gargantuan compared to “Dice,” which drew just 252,000 viewers in its third week.

WEEK’S TOP PRIMETIME SHOWS IN L+3
(April 18-24, 2016)

Adults 18-49 rating
1.  Empire (Fox), 5.2
2.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 4.8
2.  Game of Thrones* (HBO), 4.8
4.  Fear the Walking Dead (AMC), 3.3
5.  Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), 3.2
6.  The Voice-Monday (NBC), 2.6
7.  Survivor (CBS), 2.6
7.  Scandal (ABC), 2.6
9.  NCIS (CBS), 2.5
9.  Criminal Minds (CBS), 2.5
9.  Chicago Fire (NBC), 2.5
12.  The Blacklist (NBC), 2.3
12.  Chicago Med (NBC), 2.3
12.  2 Broke Girls (CBS), 2.3
15.  Mom (CBS), 2.2
15.  Blindspot (NBC), 2.2
15.  The Voice-Tuesday (NBC), 2.2
18.  NCIS: New Orleans (CBS), 2.1
18.  Scorpion (CBS), 2.1
20.  NBA Playoffs-Thursday: Golden State-Houston (TNT), 2.0
20.  The Odd Couple (CBS), 2.0
22.  Dancing With the Stars (ABC), 1.94
23.  NBA Playoffs-Sunday: Cleveland-Detroit (TNT), 1.93
24.  Lucifer (Fox), 1.90
25.  Love & Hip Hop Atlanta (VH1), 1.89
26.  Gotham (Fox), 1.86
27.  Better Call Saul (AMC), 1.84
28.  Quantico (ABC), 1.81
29.  Once Upon a Time (ABC), 1.80
30.  The Flash (CW), 1.78
31.  Supergirl (CBS), 1.76
31.  Teen Mom (MTV), 1.76
33.  Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders (CBS), 1.70
34.  Limitless (CBS), 1.69
35.  Shark Tank (ABC), 1.68
35.  Hawaii Five-0 (CBS), 1.68
37.  NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), 1.64
38.  Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (ABC), 1.54
39.  Castle (ABC), 1.50
39.  Black Ink Crew (VH1), 1.50
xx.  The Simpsons (Fox), 1.49
41.  Rosewood (Fox), 1.48
42.  The Amazing Race (CBS), 1.47
42.  Bob’s Burgers (Fox), 1.47
44.  60 Days In (A&E), 1.45
44.  20/20 (ABC), 1.45
46.  The Last Man on Earth (Fox), 1.44
47.  NBA Playoffs-Wednesday: Detroit-Cleveland (TNT), 1.43
47.  The Catch (ABC), 1.43
49.  Grimm (NBC), 1.42
50.  NBA Playoffs-Monday: Dallas-Oklahoma City (TNT), 1.41 

Total Viewers (in millions)
1.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 18.07
2.  NCIS (CBS), 17.83
3.  NCIS: New Orleans (CBS), 14.70
4.  Empire (Fox), 12.85
5.  Dancing With the Stars (ABC), 12.39
6.  Criminal Minds (CBS), 11.63
7.  The Voice-Monday (NBC), 11.43
8.  Madam Secretary (CBS), 11.14
9.  Chicago Fire (NBC), 11.01
10.  The Voice-Tuesday (NBC), 10.85
11.  Survivor (CBS), 10.76
12.  Scorpion (CBS), 10.64
13.  Chicago Med (NBC), 10.44
14.  The Blacklist (NBC), 10.39
15.  The Good Wife (CBS), 10.34
16.  60 Minutes (CBS), 10.30
17.  Hawaii Five-0 (CBS), 10.27
18.  NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), 10.23
19.  Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), 10.12
20.  Mom (CBS), 9.69
21.  Game of Thrones (HBO), 9.58
22.  The Odd Couple (CBS), 9.24
23.  Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders (CBS), 9.12
24.  Scandal (ABC), 8.62
25.  Blindspot (NBC), 8.41
26.  Blue Bloods (CBS), 8.37
27.  2 Broke Girls (CBS), 8.21
28.  Castle (ABC), 8.19
29.  Elementary (CBS), 7.59
30.  Limitless (CBS), 7.51
31.  Supergirl (CBS), 7.50
32.  Last Man Standing (ABC), 7.16
33.  Little Big Shots (NBC), 7.13
34.  Fear the Walking Dead (AMC), 6.99
35.  The Amazing Race (CBS), 6.91
36.  Shark Tank (ABC), 6.64
37.  The Catch (ABC), 6.50
38.  20/20 (ABC), 6.44
39.  Bones (Fox), 5.92
40.  48 Hours (CBS), 5.76
41.  Quantico (ABC), 5.74
42.  Lucifer (Fox), 5.72
43.  Rosewood (Fox), 5.57
44.  Grimm (NBC), 5.56
45.  Rush Hour (CBS), 5.45
46.  Dr. Ken (ABC), 5.39
47.  Nashville (ABC), 5.37
48.  Gotham (Fox), 5.29
49.  America’s Funniest Home Videos (ABC), 5.19
50.  Once Upon a Time (ABC), 5.17

Source: Nielsen