TV Ratings: 'Empire' Bows Big, Tops 'American Idol' Lead-in

Fox's new drama gets a strong debut after a one-hour return for the singing competition

Empire TV Still - H 2014

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.

Read More New Fox Chiefs Reveal Reboot Plan: "We're Not Looking to Do Smaller, Dark Programming"

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.

The closest competition came from ABC, which aired new episodes of its comedy block. After a steady return of The Middle (2.3 adults), The Goldbergs (2.5 adults) was up by three-tenths of a point. Modern Family (3.2 adults) held even, while Black-ish (2.1 adults) dropped two-tenths of a point.

The Mentalist moved into its new Wednesday digs on CBS, mostly holding its latest Sunday score with a 1.3 rating in the key demo. The People's Choice Awards dropped 25 percent from last year to a 1.8 rating in the key demo.

Over on NBC, Law & Order: SVU (1.7 adults) rose three-tenths of a point, sandwiched between steady episodes of Mysteries of Laura (1.3 adults) and Chicago P.D. (1.6 adults)

Read article