‘Empire’ By the Numbers – The Good News and the Bad News



If you’re a devoted fan of the Fox TV series “Empire”, which kicked off its third season two weeks ago, there’s good news in terms of ratings, but there’s also some bad news as well.

The good news is that, the show is still far and away the most watched broadcast network series, pulling a 12 share with 9.6 million viewers for its last episode. That topped the second most watched show, CBS’ “Survivor”, which was No. 2 with 9.2 million; and their “Criminal Minds” series, which airs opposite “Empire”, came in third with 8.9 million.

However, there’s also some bad news; last Wednesdays ratings and viewership for “Empire” were down 12% from the previous week’s third season premiere. But even worse than that is the fact that, last week’s 9.6 million viewers is a drop of almost 50% from the 18 million viewers who watched the show’s second season premiere episode a year ago. And throughout the second season, the series experienced a drop in viewership, down to an average of 11 million by the season’s end.

Now ratings for season three so far are showing that the number of people watching the show continues to slip, despite the fact that it’s still the most watched network series on Wednesday nights.

While that doesn’t sound too good, keep in mind that the whole television landscape has radically charged. Twenty years ago, a show getting 9-10 million viewers per episode would be immediately canceled. And before the advent of cable TV, or even Netflix, Hulu and other TV on demand services, the internet and video games, a network show had to pull in at least 20 million viewers just be considered even a middling success.

In 2016, networks probably long for the good old days of a middling hit getting 20 million viewers. Those days are now more of a dream, and TV executives are more than happy to have 9 million viewers watching their shows, and be grateful for it. Certainly, Fox is likely pleased with what “Empire” is drawing despite the fact it’s no longer the powerhouse that it once was.

The big challenge is for the network, and for creator and executive producer Lee Daniels, to keep ratings and viewership from slipping even further. But if that happens and, there might be some panic at Fox TV HQ, and “Empire’s” third season could be its last, or close to it.


  1. Hello? Like you mentioned the advent of Hulu, Netflix, etc. a lot of viewers are taking advantage of this fact and watching Empire and others shows on these online apps listed above. Due to work, and other commitments I and other people are like ‘ Cool, I don’t have to worry that about missing my fav show, I can just catch on Hulu, and etc. I believe this is why ratings for some shows have dropped on the TV networks not simply because people because people don’t want to watch them

  2. I agree! Empire is still by far a great show but I watch it later because my schedule does not permit watching it live. Guess the “ginormous” network FOX will have to rethink their strategy.

  3. When Empire added Taye Diggs to the cast, they lost my support. Never have been a fan of Diggs. I also stopped watching Rosewood when he was added.

      • Sheila even though you just aired your opinion about diggs, you are a clown i must say. The reason empire viewers dropped to me is cos its no longer interesting. It lost it savour in the middle of season two. No more intrigue. Nothing to look out for. They should end it already.

  4. Empire is far from the most likelyr show I’m agreeing with the other’s people are watching hey I watch live and turn right around and watch it on Showbox lol. Wednesday’s on fox are appreciated we’re tuning in faithfully and it’s the most talked about show ever since the early 90’s.

  5. Empire rocks. I try to watch the episodes as aired. But due to working shifts i have to record it then watch it when i get home. I feel season e is gonna be the beat season by far.

  6. It is not surprising to me how the lighter skin media if you know who I mean are always taking jabs at the series Empire. They are so frustrated that an African American cast has managed to have so many viewers! Don’t believe their hype!

    • Yes we light skinned people are always trying to figure out how to put you dark skinned people down

    • How do you know if they’re “lighter”. If we would stop the narrow mindedness & stereo typing…what a much nicer place it would be. No one is owed anything..gesh!

  7. I love Empire. I am so addicted of the show. I can’t wait for next episode. Love cookie she awesome.

  8. What happened to Cookies love interest, the security guy? That just wrote him out, still wondering did I miss an episode or what? I too like others, watch on demand, the next day.

    • Remember.. He left for a new job.. He asked Cookie to come with him but she declined..

    • Yes, you missed an episode. He was playing Cookie all along. The story line eludes to it throughout the season; showing that he had an hidden agenda. Honestly, I can’t remember what he was trying to do. He was being pressuredone by some thuggish looking men to stop messing around and do what he came there to do. He would always say, I need more time. The men were not feeling it and wanted him to make his move. Thing is, he fell in love with Cookie during the process. Nevertheless, who comes to save the day! Who busts everything wide open and muscles him right out of Cookies life? THE MAN – LUSCIOUS!!!!

      OF COURSE Luscious gives Cookie the look. LOL. She’s pissed. LOL……….

  9. May you all should try to add more top singers and rappers. Try new edition, Keith sweat, Ronald isley, Anita baker ,babyface, tonight Braxton. New school and old school. President Obama I think has great swag. First lady is beautiful. Vice President Biden he was in law and order svu. K.C and sunshine band. The Ojays for love of money,. Just thinking maybe you would reach all new audience.

  10. It’s interesting the direction EMPIRE took this season – killing off the only white main character and getting rid of the Latina characters introduced last season. And they added a new Black character/singer and Taye Diggs. It’s like the show decided to go “Blacker” this season. Maybe getting back to their roots might work. But what we should watch for is if EMPIRE will have less gay sex scenes this season. Some did complain that they were a turn-off and may have impacted ratings. We’ll see.

  11. I believe that empire is a Well favorite show on tv. The only change is viewers are now turning to streaming in shows such as empire using the Internet. So the ratings are so far out in left field. I do think that the rating ppl are smart enough to know that familles are now using the Internet to match tv shows and movies. It is cheaper to use the Internet than câble in the average household. So most ratings are off by the statement of viewers are dropping. They are only using the new age of the power of the internet

  12. We watch on DEMAND the day or days later. EMPIRE still has it’s audience but there are other shows as well as people have a life also. So on DEMAND helps a great deal. EMPIRE will always be #1 for our home??????

  13. Came here to understand why Queen of Katwe didn’t do good. (Looks around, leaves)

  14. I am iver the Empire fashion show. The lead actors have done great work but they are predictable now and pretty much a bore IMO. Pretty people doing ugly things. Now “Power” on the other hand floats my boat for now. We can write, we can act, the camera loves us. No media excitement without us. The days of first Negro to or one Negro at a time– long gone.

  15. I like Empire. It brings me back to watching Dynasty and Falcon Crest and the other nighttime soaps, except now I get to see a cast that looks more like me. While Empire’s days as a phenomenon may be over, it is still a solid show and has a good formula – show rich Black people embroiled in family, love and work drama, great music, and throw in some social issues. The problem is that the show is still trying to find itself. This is only the third season. When a show comes out of the gate like this one did, there’s really nowhere else for it to go and that’s down as far as ratings. The key is how much do the ratings drop? The third season drop off is tell-tale. No one could have predicted it’s initial success so trying to keep the show at season one’s standard is unrealistic. They will keep it on air as long as possible, but it’s an expensive production. So depending on what else they have as a replacement or how the new shows and old staples do this Fall and Winter, the network will definitely have to make some decisions about how many more seasons this show will have. While it’s not my favorite show, I am entertained by it and if I’m home on Wednesday nights, I definitely watch it, but I can also wait to watch it later.

  16. I’m not surprised, Empire sucks now. Same story lines over and over just with different supporting characters. Also, whatever is happening with social media warriors = instant storyline for lee Daniels. Try being more original.

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