TV Ratings: Lee Daniels' 'Star' Preview Brings Strong Sampling to Fox

Star S01E01 Still - Publicity - H 2016
Annette Brown/FOX

Since ordering the project back in April, Fox has been hoping its new Lee Daniels drama might duplicate even a fraction of the star power of Empire. With the latter as its lead-in, the new drama got off to a pretty good start.

A special preview of Star averaged a 2.2 rating among adults 18-49 and 6.7 million viewers for Fox on Wednesday night. In the key demo, that makes it a competitive debut for fall 2016, though off a bit from the season's highest-rated premiere to date — a 2.9 rating in the key demo for NBC's This Is Us. In a move designed to give Star the best sampling possible, Fox pulled a rare maneuver in shifting Empire from its 9 p.m. roost. The drama instead aired at 8 p.m., taking a 2.7 rating among adults 18-49.

For Empire, the episode (a fall finale) proved better than the week before. The drama's live-plus-same-day returns have been on the decline this season, as has its time-shifting, but even a fatigued Empire is an ideal launchpad for any new show. Star held 88 percent of Empire's audience and 81 percent of its showing in the key demo — at least in early fast affiliate returns from Nielsen. 

Perhaps best for Star is that it drew a younger crowd than ABC's Modern Family and the always formidable Survivor — which aired its finale in the same time slot to the tune of a 2.0 rating in the key demo. (Survivor won the night's total viewers race, averaging 9.1 million.) The real test for Star will come when it officially premieres in January. It takes over the Empire time slot while Daniels' first Fox effort is on hiatus. Even more important for Fox is how the younger-skewing show will perform over time. The network stopped issuing next-day ratings reports over a year ago.

Success for Star would be an ideal way to start a promising midseason for Fox. The network, currently No. 2 in the key demo thanks to the World Series, has both the Super Bowl and 24 spinoff Legacy on deck for February.