The Empire finale was every bit the Nielsen blockbuster for which Fox execs had prayed (and which TV industry insiders had expected). Per early estimates — we’ll update with final numbers later — the two-hour telecast drew a stunning 16.5 million viewers and averaged an eye-popping 6.5 rating among the advertiser-coveted adults-under-50 demo. With the surge from last week’s episode (14.9 million viewers), Empire becomes the first scripted show on network TV to add audience every week during its freshman season since at least the early 1990s (when Nielsen began keeping regular track of such things). Among viewers under 50, the Empire finale is also the top-rated season-ender for a new show since spring 2005, when Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, and Lost captivated the country. Even though it was promoted as a two-hour episode, Fox and Nielsen actually plan to count only the 9–10 p.m. hour of Empire as the show’s actual finale — no doubt because that final hour was even higher-rated, averaging 17.5 million viewers and a 6.8 rating in the preliminary numbers. However you cut it, Empire goes into the books as a smash. It grew roughly 80 percent from its January premiere to its finale, and it has now officially passed The Big Bang Theory as broadcast TV’s No. 1 show with viewers under 50.
Most Watched on Vulture
Most Viewed Stories
On My Block Is a Remarkable Coming-of-Age Story
Here’s What Made Bill Hader Break the Hardest While Doing Stefon on SNL This Weekend
Love, Simon Is a Sweet, Toothless, and Utterly Unstoppable Love Story
Latest News from VultureOlivia de Havilland and FX Debate Whether ‘Bitch’ Is Worse Than ‘Dragon Lady’ in Court
This is turning out to be a real dragon lady of a lawsuit.Let Them Be Your Stars Again: NBC’s Smash Could Get a Stage Reboot
Fade in a TV revival.Syfy’s Nightflyers Trailer: George R.R. Martin Presents…Space
“It’s Psycho in space.” Well, don’t mind if we do.America’s Next Top Model Recap: Undercover B*tch
Never underestimate Top Model in doing wrong by its contestants.Rise Recap: Totally Effed
How is this show on Mr. Mazzu’s side?Ringo Starr Finally Got Knighted, So Who’s Laughing Now, Quincy Jones?
The Beatle received his honor from Prince William at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday.Beyoncé And Jay Z Have Gone On The Run To Film A Video In Jamaica
They’re riding motorbikes through the streets.Amy Poehler Is Directing Wine Country And It Stars All Her Cool Friends
With Maya Rudolph and Tiny Fey and Rachel Dratch, and Ana Gasteyer and more.Fifth Harmony’s Successor Should Be Little Mix
If Fifth Harmony has moved on, it’s time to let Little Mix move in.Analyzing the Crazy, Complicated Credits of Avengers: Infinity War
How 27 different stars figured out their unusual placement in the billing block.
Ahead of ABC’s Roseanne revival, reacquaint yourself with the Conner family.You Crazy Kids Literally Bought All of John Oliver’s Gay Rabbit Children’s Books
Another printing will be coming soon.The Tag Trailer Shows a Wonderful World Where Jon Hamm and Hannibal Buress Hang Out
Just a bunch of best friends playing the same game for 30 years.The Handmaid’s Tale Cast Explains What’s Really Under Those Cloaks
“Granny panties, don’t knock ‘em! They’re pretty comfortable.”Which Musical Should Madeline Produce in Big Little Lies Season Two?
Legally Blonde would be a pretty great choice.Cynthia Nixon Is Running for Office, But Some Can Only See Miranda Hobbes
Many were immediately dismissive of the actor-activist’s candidacy.Ethan Hawke and Paul Dano Will Star in Sam Shepard’s True West on Broadway
It’ll be the first Broadway production of a Sam Shepard play since his death in 2017.Love, Simon Is a Sweet, Toothless, and Utterly Unstoppable Love Story
Like the chorus of a latter-day Taylor Swift song, it will lift you up, goddammit, and good luck trying to stop it.Cynthia Nixon Gets Delayed by Subway on Her Way to Try to Fix the Subway
The irony.How Quickly Does This Mr. Rogers Documentary Trailer Make You Weep Happy-Sad Tears?
See it in theaters June 8.