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Ratings: ‘American Idol’-‘Empire’ Combo Scores One Final Time for Fox

On a night of otherwise depressed viewing levels, Fox dominated Wednesday’s ratings race thanks to the final “American Idol” performance hour and the second week back of “Empire,” which was down a little from its monster midseason premiere. ABC’s comedy block drooped as it returned to originals, with “Modern Family” hitting a series low, while NBC’s modestly-rated drama “Heartbeat”  is looking even shakier after a falloff in its third week.

According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, “American Idol” led the night’s opening hour with a 2.2 rating/8 share in adults 18-49 and 9.6 million viewers overall, up a tick from last Thursday’s two-hour average and the show’s best rating since early February. The series wraps its 15-season run tonight.

Empire” (4.2/14 in 18-49, 11.3 million viewers overall) was easily Wednesday’s No. 1 program and was especially dominant among adults 18-34 (3.6/15), more than doubling the rating of the next closest program for the night (“American Idol” and “Modern Family” both at a 1.5 rating). The soap was down about 12% in the demo from last week’s return (4.8) and off a little less in total viewers.

At CBS, “Survivor” (1.9/7 in 18-49, 9.0 million viewers overall) held up pretty well opposite the “Idol” competition, down a tick from last week and a close second to the Fox series in most categories. It was followed by a pair of original episodes of recently introduced drama “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 7.3 million viewers overall at 9 and 1.2/4 in 18-49, 6.9 million viewers at 10). “Beyond Borders” hit a low without its usual “Criminal Minds” lead-in, but led its regular 10 p.m. timeslot and was just a tick behind last week. Last May, a pair of back-to-back original episodes of “CSI: Cyber” also posted a 1.2 demo rating at both 9 and 10.

ABC’s “The Middle” (1.7/6 in 18-49, 6.9 million viewers overall) was in line with its prior original, but “The Goldbergs” (1.8/6 in 18-49, 6.1 million viewers overall), “Modern Family” (2.2/7 in 18-49, 7.4 million viewers overall) and “Black-ish” (1.6/5 in 18-49, 5.5 million viewers overall) were all down multiple tenths. This was a series low for “Modern Family,” now in its seventh season, while the second-year “Black-ish” matched its low. At 10 p.m., the return of Hayden Panetierre helped “Nashville” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 4.2 million viewers overall) edge up a tenth.

NBC’s “Heartbeat” (0.7/3 in 18-49, 4.0 million viewers overall) dropped off 0.2 in its third week as it looks like it won’t be able to match the ratings strength of “The Mysteries of Laura” in the timeslot earlier this season. It was a tough night for the newbie, though, given the tough “American Idol” competition and a lack of first-run episodes for its skedmates; both “Law & Order: SVU” (0.8/3 in 18-49, 3.9 million viewers overall) and “Chicago PD” (0.8/3 in 18-49, 3.9 million viewers overall) aired repeats.


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