‘Empire’ finale ratings hit new high, best new series result in 10 years

There were resolutions, successions, music and arrests on the 2-hour Season 1 ender of the hip hop drama last night. And for the 10th week in a row since its January 7 debut, Fox's "Empire" (6.4/20) hit a brand new viewership high of 16.5 million. Thats up 10 percent from the 14.90 million that the Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Ilene Chaiken, Francie Calfo and Brian Glazer EP'd series drew on March 11.

"Empire" also had another new record among adults 18-49 with a 10 percent rise over last weeks 5.8/17, which was tied with the dramas March 4 show for the previous all time high. In early numbers, the 8 – 10 PM finale was also up an amazing 68 percent jump over the 18-49 rating of its debut and rose 67 percent over the 9.90 million who tuned in for that first show of the 12-episode season. Don’t be surprised if those "Empire" numbers are adjusted in later ratings – they commonly have been. As it is Fox easily won the night among the demo and in total viewers with its best Wednesday result since the "American Idol" finale of May 23, 2012. That’s also the highest rated night on any of the Big 4 with regular programming since that May 2012.

In its usual 9 PM slot, "Empire" pulled in a 6.8/21 and 17.5 million total viewers. That’s a 17 percent demo and viewership rise over last week. The first hour of the show got a 6.0/20 rating with 15.577 million viewers. Put that in perspective, that’s the highest rated finale a new series has had since the 9.8/24 that "Grey’s Anatomy" got for ABC back on May 22, 2005 – a very different era in TV. Also "Empire" has grown its total audience every week since it hit the air and saw its demo rating slip only once over its entire first season – that slip was in its fourth week show of January 28 when the show got a 4.3, down a tenth from the 4.4 of the week before. "Empire"‘s February 4 broadcast garnered a 4.6 and the series has moved on up every week since with the last two weeks being even at a 5.8. With those strong Live + Same Day results plus a very strong digital afterlife on DVR and streaming and now ahead of "The Big Bang Theory," "Empire" will end its season as the top series demowise on the Big 4 and just behind AMC’s blockbuster "The Walking Dead" on all of TV.

Speaking of which, the March 15 episode of the zombie apocalypse series based on the Robert Kirkman created comics got a 7.0 among the 18-49s. The all time high for "The Walking Dead" was its Season 5 premiere on October 12 last year when the AMC series got a 8.7 rating among adults 18-49 with a total viewership of 17.3 million. The Empire finale did top the 13.8 million total viewership that this weeks "WD" had.

NBC was all encores last night while ABCs only original was Diane Sawyers "The Untold Story Of The Sound Of Music" special at 10 PM. CBS had a full slate with "Survivor" going head-to-head with the "Empire" finale and CSI Cyber at 10 PM. The CW had "Arrow" and "Supernatural." Well update with more ratings as we get them.

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