Fox got some much-needed good news on Wednesday night. Even though American Idol slipped again in its 14th cycle, that did not deter drama Empire from coming out of the gate very strong.
The 9 p.m. drama averaged a 3.8 rating among adults 18-49 and 9.9 million viewers, per adjusted Nielsen ratings, making it the top launch of the 2014-15 season (alongside ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder) and Fox’s biggest debut in three years. That number also put it as the top-rated show of Wednesday night, besting Modern Family and the return of American Idol.
The one-hour Idol pulled a premiere-low 3.2 rating with adults 18-49. That’s down significantly from the 4.7 rating it brought in last January, though that episode stretched for two hours. Still, American Idol had a slight edge in total viewers, averaging 11.2 million.
Henson, who says she took the role only after insisting that Howard also be a part of it, talked to Wendy Williams about playing Cookie Lyon, the estranged wife of rap mogul Lucious Lyon (Howard) whose just gotten out of jail after 17 years. So far, social media has anointed Henson’s Cookie as a fan favorite.
The ratings boon adds Henson to a lineup of new, top rated shows with lead or featured Black female characters that includes Jada Pinkett Smith on Gotham, also on Fox and Viola Davis on How To Get Away With Murder.
Empire airs Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. on Fox.