Ratings: Empire Ties HTGAWM as Season's No. 1 Debut, Builds on Idol

Empire Premiere Ratings

Fox is singing a hip-hoppy tune this morning, given that its freshman drama Empire premiered on Wednesday night to 9.9 million total viewers and a 3.8 demo rating (per finals).

That marks the network’s highest-rated series launch in three years (since Touch), and ties broadcast TV’s No. 1 debut of the season, ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder.

For comparison’s sake, Red Band Society‘s debut in the same time slot (albeit with a much softer lead-in) did 4.1 mil and a 1.3, while Gotham premiered this fall to 8.2 mil/3.2 (as a Monday self-starter).

TVLine readers gave the musical-sudser an average grade of “B+.”

American Idol‘s Season 14 premiere opened Fox’s night with 11.2 million viewers and a 3.3 rating (per finals), down 26 and 32 percent from its previous opener to mark new Night 1 lows, but up from Season 13’s finale (10.5 mil/2.6).

Elsewhere, per fast nationals….

ABC | The Middle (with season highs of 8.5 mil and 2.3) and Modern Family (9.2 mil/3.2) each returned up a tenth, The Goldbergs (7.8 mil/2.5) gained three tenths to score its second-best rating ever, while black-ish (6.3 mil/2.1) slipped 14 percent and two tenths.

CBS | The Mentalist christened its new time slot with 9 million viewers and a 1.3 rating, adding a few eyeballs but down a tenth in the demo from its most recent Sunday telecast. The People’s Choice Awards (8.6 mil/1.8) were down 16 and 22 percent year-over-year.

NBC | The Mysteries of Laura (6.8 mil/1.3) slipped 16 percent in audience while ticking up a tenth in the demo. Law & Order: SVU (7.8 mil/1.7) rose 13 and 21 percent, while Chicago PD (7.4 mil/1.6) was up 11 percent and a tenth.

Want scoop on any of the above shows? Email insideline@tvline.com and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.

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51 Comments
  1. cdhaskell says:

    I just love Empire. Fox got a winner on it hand. I know that the show will be renewal for the second season. You still need a score card for all the individual character and wanted to know what kind of game that they are playing.

    • cdhaskell says:

      Tarajii Henson is the best thing in Empire. I can’t wait to see where the show will goes. It is the perfect example of pure soap opera. I know that Fox will renewal the show for the second season.

  2. KC says:

    Can’t go by premiere ratings – next week will sink

    • Lilybugsan says:

      How many NEW Fox shows (non reality) have premiered with those ratings? Besides, it’s good for African Americans since people think nobody will watch a show with a black lead. So that’s a plus.

      • LT says:

        African Americans don’t need your pity. They have class and good taste. If a show is good EVERYONE will watch it no matter what they look like.

        • Lizo says:

          The OP wasn’t offering pity, they were commenting on how Hollywood continues to perpetuate the idea that people won’t watch stuff with non white male leads. It’s not pity, it’s calling the system out on its racism.

          • TeenaZay says:

            That’s funny considering the majority of TV shows are lead by women, and a decent amount of them being minority women.

        • Annie says:

          You missed the point of the original post. The fact is that those who are making programming decisions have long used the excuse that viewers won’t tun in to a show that has a majority black cast. The point of the original post was that these ratings dispel that theory.

    • puck says:

      The only way it will sink is if there’s an Earthquake. Don’t hate, congratulate! It doesn’t take much effort to think positive. Brilliant premiere with a cast that has the best chemistry I’ve seen on TV in a while.

  3. Brandon says:

    Wow. Also not bad for Idol, considering the current TV ratings landscape and last season’s ratings.

  4. nicole says:

    Wow 3.7!!

    and those ppl predicting on ratings sites were dead wrong.

  5. zac says:

    So AI still has legs.. albeit weaker ones but still. Good news for Empire.

  6. Grey says:

    “The People’s Choice” awards are down because viewers are tired of their favorite actors, TV shows, movies, etc. winning but their acceptance speeches not being shown during the broadcast! I was sooooooooo annoyed by this with the last two years. What’s the point in watching if you know nine times out of ten that even if your favorite won you’re not going to get to see them have their moment in the sun?! This is a fan based competition. It’s not like the Oscars or Emmy’s which is peer based. The fans should see be allowed to see *all* the winners accept their awards if they were present at the ceremony!

    • zac says:

      well if they do that then it’ll be 10 hours long

    • Fran says:

      I so agree! We should be able to see all the winners get their award! This is for the fans! Let’s try to do better!

    • Mary says:

      I think it is down because personally people are sick of seeing award shows period. I have never seen so many people who pats themselves on the back so often. This goes for musicians also.

    • worthymagic says:

      “The People’s Choice” awards are also down because a lot of people don’t see the actors/actresses that they like being nominated or winning, so they don’t care. In a lot cases, it’s the same old people over and over, even if they haven’t done anything or what they’ve done recently has tanked. There were also a lot of shows coming back from hiatus(like Law & Order: SVU that people wanted to watch.

    • Dude says:

      The people’s favourites don’t even win, it’s more like the “who is willing to show up” awards.

  7. Dean says:

    Wiw nice for Empire, was watching something else that time but still it scored huge on its premier. If it makes it to season 2 I may give it a shot.

  8. Tran says:

    Don’t know if Anna Faris and Allison Janney were the better co-hosts at the People’s Choice Awards than Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs did last year.

  9. Lizo says:

    So wait, the two best show debuts this season were the ones with racially diverse casts?!?!? This is shocking information. /sarcasm. Maybe now networks and studios will stop whitewashing the crap out of everything.

  10. KCC says:

    Did Empire hurt Black-ish?

  11. Bwhit says:

    Happy about Chicago PD, that was the best episode of the series so far!

  12. Sarah says:

    So my predictions for last night were way off, again (Idol did worse and Empire did a lot better). LOL Now the question is, how long before one or both of them fall into the 2s? Also, after Empire’s premiere numbers, I really hope they still give Bones a final season.

  13. Leah says:

    Unfortunate comparison to Touch, though… we all know how that one turned out.

    • Dean says:

      Indeed Touch was awesome it was a nice change to see Keifer Sutherland do something besides shoot guns and rough up people, not that there is anything wrong with that.

  14. Sharon Arnold says:

    The only reason I watched Idol was so I wouldn’t forget Empire. When Idol changed it’s format it lost a lot of people. Ms. Lopez didn’t like to show the ones that couldn’t sing, and I think that was the reason people tuned in. So even though I am just one person I will only have Idol on Wednesday nights.

    • cdhaskell says:

      I believe that the bad singer was the reason why most people watch the show in the first place but again when some of the bad people manage to get to the third round that when the people stop watch until it got to the final 12 singer round.

  15. Ron says:

    I think we should definitely acknowledge that the two shows with the highest debuts this season have been shows that have racially diverse casts and people of color in the lead roles. It definitely speaks to the ridiculous fear that non-black people won’t watch shows with black leads. Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t black-ish the number 1 new comedy of the season as well when it debuted? (Though I don’t think black-ish is nearly as good as Empire or HTGAWM).

  16. ronnie says:

    Empire was great. I hope that people continue to watch. It’s all about the quality of the show and the talent in front and behind the camera. If you make it entertaining and don’t cater to one demographic, people will tune in. And it’s been a while since we’ve had a nighttime soap that we can sink our teeth into.

  17. How to Get Away With Murder had a 3.9, not a 3.8, so it remains the highest rated new show of the season. http://tvline.com/2014/09/26/how-to-get-away-with-murder-ratings-season-1-premiere/

  18. iamkessuki23tw says:

    woop woop Tarajiiiiiiiiiiii gotta say i only tuned in for her and i will be returning next week. this is her show!!!!

  19. Rich Abey says:

    Really glad The Mentalist had 9mil viewers in it’s new timeslot, showing how strong this final season is. A nod to Taraji Henderson too on her wonderful performance in Empire, backed up by some much deserved buffo ratings!

  20. Ginger Snap says:

    Idol always opens strong, but interest quickly wanes as the season progresses.

  21. TigerLIL says:

    Oh love the Empire show definitely a fan. The show is going to work because the casting was correct. Love the way Taraji Henson is styled after the famous female gangster and drug Lord Thelma Wright. Not saying being a drug Lord is morally correct just noting that her character tends to be based on someone that should have been running a fortune 500 corporation instead of using her smarts and entrepreneurial skills to proliferate the drug game which requires business savvy too. I think its going to be a major hit for the 16-35 crowd because plenty of young people dream of running their own business and have seen major success for artist, technology wizards and creative prototype business folks rise out of the bottom rungs of society to the top. This show represents the new Dynasty where oil and industrial barons once ruled and now where music, technology, internet, media and Hollywood are creating the multimillionaires dynasty of this producing new money where anyone has the potential to achieve the “American Dream”. Fox made a gusty move on this show (out the box) but I think it will pay off in the long run. I think the music business is multicultural in itself and I think if we continue to get a real inside look at the music business game with a balance of the family element I think the show will continue to do well……great read Daniels and Strong and great timing Fox stay tuned…lol

    • herman1959 says:

      Now I’ll have to research Thelma Wright…tvline, always making me work!

      • TigerLIL says:

        Oh let me help you out Thelma Wright is a Philly Mafia Queen Pin that took over her husband’s drub empire and became a Don so to speak in her own wright. I saw her on a episode of American Gangsta and researched her and her book. She was stunningly beautiful but unusually ruthless for a female who had a solid up bringing and did not exactly come from a poverty stricken background. I thought it odd she would venture into such a life style but that is the influence of a man whom she loved who was a king pin and major player in the philly underworld. I don’t know for a fact Lee and Strong or who ever is writing is styling her but it seems that way to me… just some humorous thoughts you know art imitating life…lol

        • herman1959 says:

          Thanks, I found her on Bio.com – interesting – I grew up in Philadelphia and never heard of her. Now she says that she took over her husband’s operation to take care of her son, but she wouldn’t do it again. She later worked with women who have been affected by mental illness and drug abuse, and she has seen how her former occupation impacted them and their families. She also speaks to groups and advises against becoming involved in the drug trade. I think Cookie also has regrets.

          • TigerLIL says:

            hmmm…good observation, I know the character Cookie regrets not raising her sons more than anything which is a huge problem with women who get caught in the drug game prison for them means leaving children behind to raise themselves or be raised by strangers but certainly it is devastating the family unit…and creating some truly disturbed young people. Well you learn something new on the daily….lol