“Empire” Caps 1st Season With More Than 17 Million Viewers

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Fox drama “Empire” capped its stunning first-year ratings performance Wednesday night with viewership gains for a tenth straight week and a demo delivery not seen by any broadcast series in nearly six years.

Nielsen estimates that the two-hour finale of “Empire” averaged a 6.4 rating/20 share in adults 18-49 and 16.5 million viewers overall — up about 10% in both categories from last week’s hourlong episode (5.8/17 and 14.92 million); these numbers are expected to rise in the nationals. It opened at 8 p.m. where it left off last week (5.8 demo rating) and did a 6.8/21 and 17.5 million in its regular 9 p.m. hour.

This means that “Empire” managed to grow its audience with each of the 11 hours following its Jan. 7 premiere, which averaged 9.90 million. Wednesday’s audience for the 9 o’clock hour was up a whopping 77% (or 7.6 million viewers) from the show’s debut.

The soap starring Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson also grew each week in its core women 18-34 demo, with Wednesday’s 7.6 rating/27 share more than double the show’s premiere-night average (3.7 rating/12).

The 6.8 rating for its second hour makes it far and away the top score for any regularly scheduled broadcast program this season, nearly 25% higher than the 5.5 rating achieved by the season premiere of CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory.” The only entertainment series to fare better since the start of the television season in September has been AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” which did a whopping 8.7 for its fifth-season premiere last October and has averaged at least a 7 rating with 10 of its 14 episodes so far this season.

“Empire” was a social-media dynamo as well Wednesday, garnering 2.4 million tweets during the broadcast, according to Nielsen Social Guide. And on Facebook, roughly 2 million people generated 15.8 million likes/comments/shares related to the finale.

article by Rick Kissell via Variety.com

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