The Fox hit “Empire” got off to a strong start on Wednesday with 16.2 million people tuning into its second-season premiere, according to data from Nielsen.
“Empire” was a breakaway hit in its first season, with improbable week-to-week viewership growth over the course of 10 weeks, leading into a season finale, broadcast in May, that attracted 16.7 million viewers. The premiere on Wednesday technically snapped that growth streak in ratings. The numbers should rise even more after delayed viewing totals are included in the coming days.
The fall television season began this week at a moment when ratings for television and the networks have been in precipitous decline. “Empire’s” success last year caught nearly the entire industry by surprise, proving that monumental hits are still possible on traditional network television. Fox, which finished the most recent television season in last place in the ratings, is especially in need of strong performances from its shows.
“Empire’’ centers on the Lyon family, a music dynasty based in New York. The first episode featured guest stars including Chris Rock and Marisa Tomei, and cameos from CNN’s Don Lemon and the fashion editor André Leon Talley.
“Empire’s” first-season run was 12 episodes. This season, much to Fox executives’ delight, there will be 18 episodes.
Although Fox gave the new Ryan Murphy show, “Scream Queens,” an “Empire”-size marketing campaign, the show’s premiere on Tuesday drew four million viewers. Fox executives caution that the show is skewed toward a younger audience, and they anticipate much bigger numbers after accounting for time shifting among viewers.
Also, ABC’s new show, “The Muppets,” made its debut to much stronger ratings opposite “Scream Queens.” It drew 8.9 million viewers and a 2.8 rating among adults 18-to-49.
“The Muppets” is in second place in that demographic among freshman shows, behind only NBC’s “Blindspot.’’ That show, which benefited from a lead-in from “The Voice,” notched a 3.1 rating in the demographic and 10.6 million viewers on Monday.
SOURCE: N.Y. Times – John Koblin