10:00am PT by Kate Stanhope
'Empire' Renewed for Season 4 at Fox
Empire's reign at Fox continues.
The broadcaster has handed out an early season-four renewal for the hip-hop drama, it was announced Wednesday at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour.
Like seasons two and three, season four will consist of 18 episodes. Empire is currently in the midst of a three-month hiatus, with Lee Daniels' other music drama, Star, taking over its time slot until March.
Early renewals have become somewhat of a TCA tradition for Empire. The series was picked up for a second season after just two episodes in January 2015 at the press tour. Season three of the Taraji P. Henson-led drama was announced in January 2016, also at the winter press tour.
Empire continues to rank as broadcast's top-rated drama, but the show has faced new competition for the crown from NBC's first-year family drama This Is Us. Empire has seen a ratings dip in recent months, falling to a series low of 2.5. However, it rebounded in the final episodes of its fall run and served as a strong launching pad for Star in December.
In its third season, Empire continues to also lure impressive names: Mariah Carey guest-starred in an early season-three episode; Taye Diggs and Phylicia Rashad currently recur on the series; and Rumer Willis is also set to begin a multi-episode arc in the back half of the season.
Daniels co-created Empire with Danny Strong, and Ilene Chaiken serves as showrunner. The three executive produce with Brian Grazer, Francie Calfo and Sanaa Hamri. 20th TV produces the series in association with Imagine Entertainment.
For Fox, Empire is the first live-action series to receive a pickup for the 2017-18 season. The series will join animated hits The Simpsons and Bob's Burgers, which have been renewed through season 30 and season eight, respectively.
Empire is set to return with new episodes March 22.