Here’s How Big Fox’s ‘Empire’ Season 2 Debut Was — Sophomore Show Premieres by the Numbers

Ratings gain from series premiere to Season 2 second only to “House” in 2004-2005

Last Updated: September 24, 2015 @ 3:26 PM

With a colossal Season 2 premiere, “Empire” has certainly lived up to its name for Fox.

The hit Lee Daniels‘ hip-hop soap opera landed a whopping 6.7 rating in the main 18-49 demographic and towering 16.2 million viewers, per Nielsen’s live-plus-same day ratings measurement. That demo number is a series record, while the viewer total comes within spitting distance of the Season 1 finale’s 16.7 million.

Last night’s “Empire” episode actually marked the highest Season 2 versus Season 1 premiere percent gain (up 76 percent) for a scripted show across all of broadcast since “House.” The Hugh Laurie drama rose 119 percent to a 5.9 on its Season 2 premiere, versus a 2.7 from its series debut. And Wednesday’s “Empire” was Fox’s highest rated season premiere for a scripted show in six years, since “House’s” 2009 Season 6 premiere (6.8).

Compared to last season’s average in the main demo (5.0), the season opener’s 6.7 rating  jumped 30 percent. It was up 26 percent in total viewers (16 million vs 12.7 million).

When “Empire” is stacked up against several of the top-rated scripted series of the past 10 years, its growth in Season 2 is even more impressive.

Most top-rated scripted series fall in numbers in their sophomore seasons, including “The Blacklist,” which went from a 3.8 rating in its series premiere to 3.5 in its Season 2 premiere, down 8 percent; “2 Broke Girls,” which fell 48 percent from 7.1 to 3.7; and “Hawaii Five-0,” which went from 3.9 to 3.4, down 15 percent.

Even the shows which saw growth between the Season 1 and Season 2 premieres could not match up to the “Empire” bump. “The Following” grew its series premiere rating of 3.2 to a 4.4, up 38 percent, for its Season 2 premiere, while “Glee” bumped its series premiere number of 3.9 to a 5.6, up 44 percent, by the Season 2 premiere.

“Empire” grew even more among the younger audience. In the 18-34 demographic, the Taraji P. Henson/Terrence Howard vehicle soared 177 percent versus last year’s premiere, per preliminary fast national numbers.

And with youth comes social media and digital adoption. “Empire” set a new record on Twitter for one-hour broadcast drama series, hauling in 1.3 million tweets that generated 63 million impressions, per Nielsen.

“Empire” airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.

See TheWrap Magazine’s Fall TV Issue complete coverage here:

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