The network television season ended this week as it began: under continuous pressure, and posting weakened ratings. Here’s the good and the bad!
What more can be written about Empire, the good-news story of the network TV season? Fox expertly marketed the shit out of this drama, which its newly installed chairmen, Gary Newman and Dana Walden, had rightly identified as the network’s best chance for a hit. But even outer-limits projections for how this family soap might do could not have predicted its massive success. Not only were Empire‘s ratings anachronistically strong, but it also grew in both total audience and the 18 to 49 demographic nearly every week after its premiere. In Empire‘s Live + Same Day viewership, the Lee Daniels/Danny Strong drama grew around 80% from its premiere to its finale, from an audience of 9.9 million to 16.7 million for the two-hour finale.
Empire ended its season as the most-watched drama among 18- to 49-year-olds since the good old days of Grey’s Anatomy, and dominated social media every Wednesday night. People are still sampling it and catching up, which could signal even more growth for the show: Last month, Fox sent out a press release saying that the premiere had been watched by 29.2 million across platforms in Empire‘s Live + 30 ratings. Whether the show can sustain its fun, breakneck pace — and, in turn, keep its huge audience — in its second season is one of the most interesting questions of the fall. Whatever happens, we will always have Taraji P. Henson’s Cookie, a character for the ages.