The CW continued to fight the good fight in the ratings war with the third night of its mega-crossover “Invasion” saga resulting in the best numbers in a year for Arrow (1.3/5), while the return of Empire (2.8/9) saw Fox’s hip-hop blockbuster take a body blow to a new low and a rare second-place viewership finish courtesy of Dolly Parton.
Celebrating its 100th episode as well as being part of the team-up with Supergirl, The Flash and tonight’s Legends of Tomorrow, last night’s Arrow aimed high and more than hit the target with am 86% rise among adults 18-49 from its last original of November 16. While down a tenth from last year’s crossover with Flash, last night is the best the Stephen Amell-led series has done in the demo since that last crossover back on December 2 last year. Viewershipwise, Arrow snagged a season-best audience of 3.52 million, which was steady with last year’s crossover. Hero to hero, last night’s Arrow was down 13% in the demo from The Flash on November 29. Lead-out Frequency (0.3/1) didn’t get an “Invasion” bump, staying the same as it last new show of two weeks ago.
Even though it was still the top show of the night among the 18-49s and Fox won the night in the demo with a 2.3/7, staying the same would have been a welcome relief for Empire. Back after its Thanksgiving break and heading toward its Season 3 winter finale, the blockbuster fell to a new series low with a drop of 10% from its November 16 show. That airing two weeks ago saw Empire rise 7% from its previous series low of November 9. No help came from lead-in Lethal Weapon (1.6/6), which was down a tenth from its last original.
Perhaps even more of a sting is that Empire was soundly beaten by the sequel of Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love (1.7/6) in total viewers. Picking up from last year’s Parton movie Coat of Many Colors, the holiday special from the enduring country queen drew an audience of 11.5 million for its 9-11 PM airing. Head-to-head with Empire in the 9 PM hour, Circle of Love had a big jump on its rival with 11.9 million watching to the Fox drama’s 7.82 million.
Down a tenth in the demo from the first NBC Parton movie of last year, which didn’t face Empire, and down 11% in viewers, Circle of Love still has the distinction of being the first show on any other net to top the eyeballs on an original of the obviously declining Fox drama this season. Added to this year’s Christmas in Rockefeller Center (1.7/6), which was up 13% from last year, NBC won the night with 11.9 million viewers for its most watched non-Olympics Wednesday since January 9, 2008.
It was a full night of originals on both ABC and CBS last night with Survivor (1.9/7) and Designated Survivor (1.3/4) both steady with their last regular originals of November 16. The House of Moonves’ Criminal Minds (1.4/5) was even with its last original while Code Black (1.0/4) went up a tenth in its 10 PM slot.
The good news for the Disney-owned net came from Black-ish (1.8/6), with its 20% rise over its last pre-Thanksgiving original. Otherwise, there was no change for Modern Family (2.2/8) from its November 16 airing, while The Goldbergs (1.7/6) and Speechless (1.5/5) both fell two-tenths from two weeks ago.