TV One has acquired the exclusive cable rights to Fox’s mega hit drama series Empire. The deal with Twentieth Television was announced by TV One president Brad Siegel ahead of the network’s upfront presentation. Empire will debut on TV One, which caters to African American audiences, in May with marathons of the second season leading up to second season finale on Fox. Episodes from both the first and second seasons of the series will begin airing on TV One on a weekly basis this summer.
The traditional off-network model has broadcast drama series debuting on cable networks no earlier than the fall when the shows enter their fourth season. But that model has been overhauled dramatically in the era of online streaming. Dramas, especially serialized ones, have been harder to sell in cable but have found a burgeoning second window on streaming platforms, which have become a viable off-network alternative for serialized dramas. The deal setup for Empire on TV One resembles binge viewing, with the Season 2 marathon helping viewers to catch up so they can tune into the finale on Fox. Last spring, Empire’s exclusive streaming rights were acquired by Hulu.
Starring Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, Empire centers on the head of a music empire whose three sons and ex-wife battle for his throne.
“We are ecstatic to partner with 20th Television and Imagine in showcasing one of the biggest hits in television history,” said Siegel.
From Imagine Television in association with 20th Century Fox Television, the series was created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, and is executive produced by Daniels, Strong, Academy Award and Emmy Award-winning producer Brian Grazer, Ilene Chaiken, Francie Calfo and Sanaa Hamri.