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Ratings: ‘Empire’ Hits Six-Week High With Finale, But Well Down From Last Year

Fox’s “Empire” may not be quite as hot as in its scorching first season, but it had a strong finish to season two on Wednesday, hitting a six-week high and delivering the top demo score for any television series this month.

The NBA again provided tough competition on this night, with the second game of the Western Conference Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors averaging a big 5.9 overnight household rating on TNT. This was down from Monday’s 6.7 for a more competitive contest, but it was up 34% from the Game 2 in the West two years ago on TNT (4.4 for Oklahoma City-San Antonio) and 28% larger than last year’s Eastern Conference Finals on the network (4.6 for Cleveland-Atlanta).

Looking at Wednesday’s broadcast action, according to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, “Empire” averaged a 4.0 rating/13 share in adults 18-49 and 10.8 million viewers overall, rising more than 10% week to week for its top scores since its second spring episode, on April 6. It was the No. 1 program of the night in all categories, including adults 18-49 where it beat runners-up “Survivor” and “Modern Family” (both 2.1) by 90%, and in adults 18-34 (3.6/15) where it more than doubled everything else.

The 4.0 rating in 18-49 is the highest for any entertainment program during the May sweep, besting HBO’s “Game of Thrones” (3.9) and CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” (3.4). Still, “Empire” was down a steep 42% from its peak rating set with its season one finale in March of last year (a 6.9 in the demo, 17.62 million total viewers).

Leading into “Empire” last night, “Rosewood” (1.4/5 in 18-49, 4.7 million viewers overall) was up 21% (0.3) week to week. It has its finale next week, leading into the second-season premiere of “Wayward Pines.”

Elsewhere Wednesday, “Survivor” (2.1/7 in 18-49, 9.6 million viewers overall) was in line with last week’s hourlong average and down just a bit from last year’s closer (2.3 in 18-49, 9.74 million), which didn’t have to face “Empire.” The “Survivor” reunion post-show did a preliminary 1.5/5 in 18-49 and 6.8 million viewers at 10 p.m., down from a 1.8 in the demo last year. (Given that “Survivor” ran until about 10:15 p.m., the prelims for both programs are subject to revision in the finals.)

ABC didn’t see any upticks for its season finales of “The Middle” (1.6/6 in 18-49, 6.7 million viewers overall), “The Goldbergs” (1.8/7 in 18-49, 6.3 million viewers overall), “Modern Family” (2.1/7 in 18-49, 6.8 million viewers overall) and “Black-ish” (1.5/5 in 18-49, 5.1 million viewers overall) — all of which were at the low end of their season ranges. “Modern” was down 0.2 from its soft year-ago finale, which didn’t have to deal with “Empire” but came on a night when it had a low lead-in from gameshow “500 Questions.”

At NBC, “Heartbeat” (0.7/2 in 18-49, 3.8 million viewers overall) and “Chicago PD” (1.4/5 in 18-49, 6.9 million viewers overall) were steady week to week, but “Law & Order: SVU” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 5.6 million viewers overall) was impact by the “Empire” finale, dipping two tenths. The NBC programs conclude their seasons next week.

CW’s “Arrow” (0.8/3 in 18-49, 2.2 million viewers overall) and “Supernatural” (0.7/2 in 18-49, 1.9 million viewers overall) managed to match their week-ago scores one week from their finales. The tandem will be broken up next fall, as “Supernatural” moves to Thursday nights.

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