Empire Just Won't Stop Breaking Ratings Records

After all these years of measured television ratings, audience viewing patterns have become pretty obvious, and only rarely do trends get bucked. Fox’s Empire is a real mother bucker, though, as the series has not taken a single dip in ratings since it premiered last month, and it continues breaking records for audience growth. The Lyons remain one of the most popular families on TV, and for a good reason.

Wednesday night’s episode “Our Dancing Days” was the sixth episode in a row that saw a ratings uptick, and it drew a total of 12.9 viewers (with Live + Same Day) and scored a massive 5.1 rating within the coveted 18-49 demographic. The rise in those demo numbers has also been bafflingly consistent, scoring growth for five out of the six post-premiere weeks. We’re at the point now when Empire is just breaking its own records, like when Avatar was re-released in 3D.

EW reached out to a broadcast analyst for some kind of a comparative instance in TV history, and here was the reply.

Don’t have any new historical references for its post-premiere growth. It has literally exceeded all Nielsen total viewer records to date.

That’s incredible. We’ve gotten so used to new series nosediving after big-number premieres that we kind of thought the unmitigated success that Empire has earned was a flight of naïve fancy. Audiences just can’t get enough of the soapy drama surrounding Terrance Howard’s Lucious Lyon and his hardcore ex-wife Cookie, played with mucho gusto by Taraji P. Henson. It’s one of those shows that, despite some narrative missteps, features a central story that can be mined for years to come. Not to mention the musical numbers.

Empire topped the numbers of its lead-in American Idol by over two million viewers, almost doubling the talent competition’s 2.7 demo rating. There’s still some work to be done for the musical drama to catch up with The Walking Dead’s impressive 6.2 demo numbers, but that once unconquerable plateau doesn’t seem so high anymore. Obviously Norman Reedus needs to stop by Empire to show off his R&B side for a performance or two.

In comparison to other shows, it’s a complete wash. The Mentalist came closest with its season finale, drawing 10.1 million viewers for CBS. Modern Family and The Middle round out the top five, with 8.7 and 7.6 million viewers respectively. Poor The 100 only brought in 1.5 million, with a measly 0.6 demo rating.

You better believe the cancelation-friendly Fox isn’t letting this one go, so tune into Empire every Wednesday night, along with millions of others.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.