Ratings tank for first ‘Empire’ since Jussie Smollett arrest

“Empire” returned from winter hiatus on Wednesday, airing its first original episode since star Jussie Smollett was arrested and charged with filing a false police report. It didn’t receive a warm welcome from viewers.

Last night’s 8 p.m. episode settled for a 1.3 demo rating/6 share among adults 18-49, and 4.412 million total viewers — those Nielsen numbers are way down from last year’s comparable hour, and are even down double digits versus the hip-hop soap opera’s fall finale.

The previous original “Empire” episode on Dec. 5 had a 1.5 rating and 5.043 million total viewers. Last year’s midseason return put up a 2.0 rating and tallied 6.217 million viewers.

We’ll save you the math: Wednesday’s hour was down 13 percent in both the demo and for the overall audience versus the fall finale, and down a heaping 35 percent in the demo and 29 percent in viewers from last year’s midseason premiere episode.

As a matter of fact, last night’s “Empire” drew the second-smallest audience and second-worst demo rating ever for “Empire.” The only episode to draw fewer “live” eyeballs (4.229 million) and a lower demo rating (a 1.2) aired on Halloween 2018, which makes sense, as people were celebrating the holiday and not in front of their TVs.

16 PHOTOS
Jussie Smollett on FOX's Empire
See Gallery
Jussie Smollett on FOX's Empire
EMPIRE: L-R: Taraji P. Henson and Jussie Smollett in the 'Treasons, Stratagems, and Spoils' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Nov. 14 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Taraji P. Henson and director Jussie Smollett in the 'What is Done' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Nov. 7 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Director Jussie Smollett behind the scenes in the 'What is Done' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Nov. 7 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Terrence Howard and director Jussie Smollett behind the scenes in the 'What is Done' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Nov. 7 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Jussie Smollett and Taraji P. Henson in the 'The Depth of Grief' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 31 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Jussie Smollett in the 'The Depth of Grief' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 31 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Bryshere Y. Gray and Jussie Smollett in the 'Love All, Trust a Few' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 17 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Jussie Smollett and Bryshere Y. Gray in the 'Pride' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 10 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Jussie Smollett and Bryshere Y. Gray in the 'Pride' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 10 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Jussie Smollett in the 'Pay For Their Presumptions' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 3 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Jussie Smollett, Bryshere Gray, and Trai Byers in the 'The Empire Unposessd' season finale episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, May 23 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Terrence Howard as Lucious Lyon, Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon, Bryshere Y. Gray as Hakeem Lyon, Jussie Smollett as Jamal Lyon and Trai Byers as Andre Lyon in Season Five of EMPIRE premiering Wednesday, Sept. 26 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Pictured L-R: Bryshere Gray, Jussie Smollett and Andre Royo in the 'Slave to Memory' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Dec. 13 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Pictured L-R: Trai Byers, Gabourey Sidibe and Jussie Smollett in the 'Bleeding War' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 18 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Pictured L-R: Terrel Carter and Jussie Smollett in the 'Evil Manners' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 11 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Pictured L-R: Jussie Smollett and Gabourey Sidibe in the 'Full Circle' episode of Wednesday, Oct. 4 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

That said, Fox and its regular abbreviated (compared with CBS, ABC and NBC) primetime schedule still finished first in key-demo averages, but it just barely edged ABC — with a different of 17,000 viewers — for third in terms of total viewers. NBC aired all reruns last night and still landed a bigger audience than both of those nets.

Fox was first in ratings with a 1.2 rating/5 share in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic and third in total viewers with an average of 4.05 million, according to preliminary numbers. Following “Empire,” “Star” at 9 had a 1.1/5 and 3.7 million viewers.

Shortly after this set of Nielsen data came out, Smollett pleaded not guilty to 16 counts of disorderly conduct. Read all about that here.

CBS and ABC tied for second in ratings, both with a 0.9/4. CBS was first in total viewers with 5 million, ABC was fourth with 4.03 million.

For CBS, “Survivor” at 8 got a 1.5/7 and 7.6 million viewers. From 9 to 11, the season finale of “The World’s Best” managed a 0.6/3 and 3.7 million viewers.

For ABC, “The Goldbergs” at 8 had a 1.1/5 and 4.8 million viewers. At 8:30, “Schooled” got a 1.0/4 and 3.9 million viewers. “Modern Family” at 9 received a 1.2/5 and 4.6 million viewers. “Single Parents” at 9:30 closed the comedy block with a 0.8/4 and 3.4 million viewers. “Whiskey Cavalier” finished off primetime to a 0.6/3 and 3.7 million viewers.

NBC was fourth in ratings with a 0.6/3 and second in viewers with 4.2 million, running all repeats.

Univision and Telemundo tied for fifth in ratings, both with a 0.4/2. Univision was fifth in total viewers with 1.2 million, Telemundo was sixth with 1.1 million.

The CW was seventh in ratings with a 0.3/1 and in viewers with 833,000. “Riverdale” at 8 had a 0.3/2 and 1 million viewers. At 9, “All American” got a 0.2/1 and 629,000 viewers.

Find last Wednesday’s ratings here.

13 PHOTOS
'Riverdale' cast at the 2017 AMAs
See Gallery
'Riverdale' cast at the 2017 AMAs
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 19: Lili Reinhart attends the 2017 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 19, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 19: KJ Apa attends the 2017 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 19, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 19: Camila Mendes attends the 2017 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 19, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/AMA2017/Getty Images for dcp)
Actress Lili Reinhart arrives at the 2017 American Music Awards on November 19, 2017, in Los Angeles, California. / AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 19: Madelaine Petsch attends the 2017 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 19, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/AMA2017/FilmMagic for dcp)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 19: KJ Apa attends 2017 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 19, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by J. Merritt/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 19: Camila Mendes attends the 2017 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 19, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/AMA2017/Getty Images for dcp)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 19: Madelaine Petsch attends the 2017 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 19, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 19: Lili Reinhart attends the 2017 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 19, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/AMA2017/Getty Images for dcp)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 19: KJ Apa attends the 2017 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 19, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/AMA2017/FilmMagic for dcp)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 19: Camila Mendes attends the 2017 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 19, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/AMA2017/FilmMagic for dcp)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 19: Madelaine Petsch attends the 2017 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 19, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 19: Travis Mills (L) and Madelaine Petsch attend the 2017 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 19, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Read Full Story

Sign up for Entertainment Insider by AOL to get the hottest pop culture news delivered straight to your inbox!

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.