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Ratings: Fox’s ‘Empire’ Rules Again; Rough Return for NBC Crime Dramas

Every network was back in originals on the first Wednesday of the May sweep, with Fox’s “Empire” holding up well and towering over the field. CBS had a solid showing with “Survivor,” which won the opening hour, and the season finale of “Criminal Minds,” but it was slow going for NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” and “Chicago PD,” which paid a price for being out of the spotlight the past month.

According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, “Empire” (3.6 rating/12 share in adults 18-49, 9.3 million viewers overall) was down a little from recent weeks to its second lowest score to date, but it continued to dominate the night. And considering that last night marked the first time since it returned on March 30 that it faced all-original regular competition on ABC, CBS and NBC, that result is all the more impressive. The soap, which wraps its second season in two weeks, tripled its lead-in from “Rosewood” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 4.3 million viewers overall), which was down a tick from last week.

Elsewhere, CBS’ “Survivor” (2.1/8 in 18-49, 9.4 million viewers overall) continued its strong season, on par with last week and just about where it was on the comparable night a year ago; it also edged out “Empire” as Wednesday’s most-watched program overall. It was followed by the season finale of “Criminal Minds” (1.8/6 in 18-49, 8.8 million viewers overall), which was up a tenth from its prior original of two weeks ago and matched last year’s finale score. “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 6.8 million viewers overall) held steady from last week, when it had a repeat lead-in but also faced a repeat of chief timeslot challenger “Chicago PD” on NBC; last night, “Beyond Borders” tied with the Peacock program in 18-49.

It was an overall rough night for NBC, with “Chicago PD” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 6.2 million viewers overall) falling two tenths below its prior season low but still at least managing the 18-49 tie with CBS. Earlier, “Heartbeat” (0.7/3 in 18-49, 4.1 million viewers overall) was down a tenth to match its low, and “Law & Order: SVU” (1.1/4 in 18-49, 5.2 million viewers overall) was a big 0.3 below its season low. With the crime dramas only producing 23 episodes over 22 weeks this season, that meant some lengthy breaks this spring. They will get a chance to regroup next week when CBS shifts from “Criminal Minds” to “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” at 9.

ABC’s comedy block was on par with prior results, starting with second-place finishes in the opening hour for “The Middle” (1.7/7 in 18-49, 6.9 million viewers overall) and “The Goldbergs” (1.9/7 in 18-49, 6.6 million viewers overall). “Modern Family” matched its low (2.2/8 in 18-49, 7.4 million viewers overall) but placed second in demos to “Empire” for the 9 o’clock half-hour and was Wednesday’s No. 2 program overall in 18-49. “Black-ish” (1.6/5 in 18-49, 5.6 million viewers overall) placed third at 9:30 p.m. and was up a tick from last week when it had a repeat lead-in, and “Nashville” (0.9/3 in 18-49, 3.9 million viewers overall) was in its usual range.

CW had a low-wattage night with its “Arrow” (0.7/3 in 18-49, 2.1 million viewers overall) and “Supernatural” (0.6/2 in 18-49, 1.5 million viewers overall), down 0.2 and 0.1 week to week, respectively.

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