Fox’s Empire continues to defy gravity and the conventional wisdom that scripted series can no longer pack live ratings punch in an era of online and DVR viewing. Last night’s ninth episode of the hip-hop family drama posted a 5.7 in adults 18-49 and 14.2 million total viewers in the fast nationals.
This represents the highest Live+same day demo rating for any regular broadcast drama in over five years, since Grey’s Anatomy on October 1, 2009. And since Empire often gets adjusted up in the finals, last night’s episode may be able to tie the 5.8 Live+same day rating of the Lost finale in May 2010, which aired on a special night. (UPDATE: Empire indeed went up to a 5.8 in the finals, tying the Lost closer.)
Empire‘s growth spurt — its ninth episode is up +50% vs the premiere in 18-49 — is the biggest for a new broadcast series in a decade, since another Fox drama, House, which rose +85% over the comparable period in 2004.
Vs. last week’s fast nationals, Empire, executive produced by creators Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, Brian Grazer and showrunner Ilene Chaiken, was up +8% in the demo and +2% in total viewers.
Fox, which also featured American Idol (2.1, down -5% from last week) dominated the night in 18-49 (3.9) and also won in total viewers (11.5 million).
CBS launched its second new midseason drama series in four days, latest CSI offshoot CSI: Cyber starring new Oscar winner Patricia Arquette. The procedural opened with an OK 1.8 rating in adults 18-49. That was far better than the 1.0 premiere rating for Battle Creek last Sunday in the 10 PM slot that had been previously earmarked for CSI: Cyber, but the CSI spinoff benefitted from a stronger lead-in (1.9 for Criminal Minds, even with last original) vs. 1.1 for The Good Wife. CSI: Cyber was down -10% from the fall debut in the Wednesday 10 PM hour of the freshman series it succeeded, Stalker, which is a tossup for renewal.
The highest-rated series on CBS last night was the oldest, Survivor (2.3), which equaled the fast national for its 30th season premiere last week.
Things were largely status quo on ABC. The Middle (2.2) was up +10% from last week. The Goldbergs (2.5), Modern Family (3.4) and Black-ish (2.3) were all on par with their fast nationals last week; Nashville (1.4) was up +8%.
NBC aired a Voice “best of” blind auditions special (2.1) and a repeat of Chicago PD, the CW carries an Arrow rerun and a new 100 (0.5, flat).