TV Ratings: 'Empire' Down From 2015, 'Designated Survivor' Leads Wednesday Premieres

Designated Survivor_Empire_Split - Publicity - H 2016
Courtesy of ABC; Courtesy of FOX

Designated Survivor_Empire_Split - Publicity - H 2016

Wednesday night brought three new broadcast series, perhaps most notably the premiere of ABC's Designated Survivor, and the return of Fox smash Empire.

Matching its season finale but down quite steeply from its year-ago premiere, Empire averaged a 4.1 rating among adults 18-49 and 10.8 million viewers. It easily ranked as the top 18-49 performer of the night.

Empire was guaranteed to drop (nearly 40 percent in this case) from its sophomore premiere a year ago. The comparable episode marked the beginning of its gradual live-plus-same-day decline. The episode averaged a 6.7 rating among adults 18-49 and 16.2 million viewers. No broadcast series has come anywhere near that feat in the key demo in the time since. (Though, the X-Files certainly made a valiant effort.)

Last we saw the show, which is a more appropriate comparison, it pulled a night-of 4.1 rating among adults 18-49 and 10.9 million viewers. All told last season, its live-plus-seven-day average was a 6.4 rating among adults 18-49 and 17.7 million viewers.

So while Wednesday's score can't be the most spectacular news for Fox and the Empire team, it still returns with its status as broadcast's top-rated series firmly unchallenged.

As for the night's newcomers, the dramas were evenly matched. Lethal Weapon earned a 2.2 rating in the key demo and 7.8 million viewers in the time slot immediately before Empire. (The combination gave Fox an easy win for the night.) And, on ABC, Designated Survivor earned a 2.3 rating among adults 18-49 and nearly 10 million viewers. The two new dramas continue the week's string of promising starts for debuting series, albeit down from the highs seen Tuesday night by NBC drama This Is Us.

Also new was ABC comedy Speechless. It might be the smallest of the night, but it performed in line with fellow ABC comedies The Goldbergs and Black-ish by earning a 2.0 rating among adults 18-49 in its 8:30 p.m. slot. Modern Family also returned to ABC — up from its airing toward the end of last season but showing its age with a year-to-year drop to a 2.6 rating among adults 18-49. 

Survivor kicked off another season on CBS with a steady 2.3 rating among adults 18-49, and Big Brother wrapped its summer run with a 2.1 rating in the key demo. 

After winning the first two nights of the season, NBC has to settle for last among the Big Four on Wednesday. Blindspot shifted into its new time slot, steady with last week's sampling but down steeply from its Monday debut a year ago, with a 1.3 rating among adults 18-49. It was followed by steady returns for Law & Order: SVU and Chicago PD, which earned a respective 1.8 and 1.6 rating in the key demo.