Fox wasted no time in getting Empire onto their fall schedule. The mid-season replacement that debuted this winter with 12 episodes will return in September with a full 18 with nine in the first half of the season and the second 9 coming in 2016. Alicia Keys, Lenny Kravitz and Chris Rock are already booked to join the show as guest stars and Ne-Yo will join Timbaland writing and producing songs for the show.
Fox is expanding its breakout mega-hit Empire. Fox chairman and CEO Gary Newman confirmed he’s boosting Empire’s episode count in the second season to 18 episodes, versus the 12 episodes that aired during its debut season this year.
The Terrence Howard-starring hip-hop drama made a record-breaking splash in its debut on Wednesday nights, defying gravity by continuing to grow with each subsequent episode. Its season finale snagged 16.7 million viewers and a 6.5 in the 18-49 demographic. Going into the upfronts, one big question was whether Fox would move Empire to Thursday nights, which is the most lucrative weekday for advertising. But doing so would also mean that Empire would likely face ABC’s own powerhouse, Scandal, at 9 p.m.
“We’d be crazy to move it,” Fox chairman and CEO Gary Newman told reporters ahead of the network’s upfront presentation on Monday morning. “We want to thank and reward our fans by keeping it in that time period… The stories we’ve heard already for season 2 will blow away the audience.”
Empire will remain on Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. Look for more announcements in June, when Newman says they have some ‘exciting plans’ in store for Empire fans. In the meantime, the entire first season is available on Hulu.