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'  FOX

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.

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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)

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