With family feuds galore, a new CEO and Naomi Campbell guest starring, Empire (4.7/15, 12.24 million viewers) certainly struck back last night in its Season 2 spring return. Back for the first time since December 2, the Lee Daniels- and Danny Strong-created blockbuster was easily the top-rated and most-watched show on TV on Wednesday and up 4.4% from its winter finale among adults 18-49. Viewershipwise, last night’s Empire Season 2B return was up 4% from its last original of last year.
Overall, Fox won the night in the demo with a 3.0 rating, while CBS was the most watched net of the night by a nose with 8.693 million viewers to Fox’s 8.686 million. The return of Empire saw 8 PM lead-in Rosewood (1.4/5) rise 40% over last week, which is closer to what the newbie series was getting when its lead-out was on last year. Compared to the Hell’s Kitchen (1.2) that played in the 9 PM slot on March 23, the return of the Lyon family rose 291% for Fox.
Topping the 4.3/13 of the January 31 Grease Live!, the fast-affiliate numbers for Wednesday’s Empire are the best non-sports demo result Fox has had this year. Looking at total audience results, Grease Live! had 12.21 million viewers, while in early numbers, Empire has 12.24 million. In fact, coming back from its first long break ever, last night’s Empire was the best the series has done among the demo since its October 21 episode, which got a 4.8 rating.
In metered market numbers the signs looked good for Empire and Fox too, with last night’s episode drawing a 8.3/13 rating — or 5% better than its winter finale did in the early results. In the local people meters from 25 markets, the ‘Death Will Have His Day” episode got a 5.2 among the 18-49s, a 4% bop up from the December 2 show.
To add perspective, the Empire Season 2 premiere of September 23, 2015 hit a 6.7/20 rating in the key demo with a massive total viewership of 16.18 million. To get a sense of how big Empire has become, last night’s Season 2B opener was up 27% from the hip-hop drama’s January 7, 2015 series debut among adults 18-49.
Up against Empire in the 9 PM slot last night, both Criminal Minds (1.8/6) and Law & Order: SVU (1.4/5) saw declines of 18% and 7%, respectively. The former of course hit a multi-season high last week with the departure of original character Derek Morgan played by Shemar Moore. The CW’s Supernatural (0.6/2) was even with its March 23 show after 8 PM Arrow (0.9/3) shot up 29% with its visit from a Flash character. With the exception of Nashville (0.9/3), which was even with its March 23 show, ABC was all encores Wednesday.
The second-highest-rated and most-watched show of the night, Survivor (2.1/8, 9.43 million viewers) was even with last week’s final demo number, as was NBC newbie Heartbeat (0.9/3) with its regular slot premiere. At 10 PM, Chicago P.D. (1.5/5) ticked up a tenth from the fast nationals of its March 23 airing.