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Empire, the bold, brutal and bitchy melodrama following the rise of a hip hop empire and the problems that could bring the business to its knees, is doing quite well over at Fox. The show is doing so well, in fact, that the ratings actually increased during last night’s second episode. Episode 2 actually brought in 10.3 million total viewers and a 4.0 rating.
You would think that it would help to have American Idol as a lead-in, but Idol’s episode last night only pulled in a 2.9 rating, despite having a similar number of viewers. This means there are at least some viewers who are seeking Empire out on Wednesday nights—which is certainly good news for the drama. In extension it is good news for Fox, which has seen plenty of freshman dramas falter this season, including Gracepoint and Red Band Society, which just recently got canceled.
The biggest news for Empire is that the show did better during its second episode than its first. Anyone who has ever followed the ratings trajectory of the average TV show should know that the premiere episode usually puts up better numbers than subsequent episodes. Curious viewers will often turn up for a show’s premiere and decide the program is not for them, which means the numbers often drop during week 2. Every program that has ever existed has not followed that trajectory, but it is still notable when a program’s second episode performs better than its first.
And Empire has improved a nice amount from its premiere episode, which brought in 9.9 million total viewers and a 3.8 rating. Hitting that coveted 4.0 rating is a pretty big achievement, especially when the show is competing with veteran dramas that have already carved out a niche, including NBC’s Law & Order: SVU and CBS’ Criminal Minds, which nabbed 2.2 and 1.4 ratings, respectively, according to Variety.
Fox has had a pretty tough time putting together new programs that have stuck. As noted prior, freshman dramas Gracepoint and Red Band Society have already been cut from the lineup, and new comedy Mulaney has dealt with getting its episode order cut and getting its schedule shifted. Additionally, some of the network’s other dramas, including Sleepy Hollow, haven’t performed as well as they did last year. It’s not all bad news, however. Freshman drama Gotham has had stable ratings throughout its first season, and thanks to Empire’s success and Idol’s still-high ratings, midseason has been a bigger success for the network. Now, if Backstrom does well when it hits the schedule, Fox might really be back in the ball game.
You can catch Fox’s Empire on Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. ET.