The basketball drama, along with the Season 1 finale of Underground on WGN America, led to a relatively steady night on the Big 4 and the CW on Wednesday — except if you’re NBC; more on that later.
In the steady category, the Lee Daniels- and Danny Strong-created Empire put one of its main characters in harm’s way to set up next week’s finale. Although it was the night’s top-rated and most-watched show, the Fox series was even among 18-49s with last week’s second-lowest result ever. Viewership-wise, Empire was up 3% over its May 4 episode.
In a season that has seen Live+Same Day declines for the Fox blockbuster, last night’s demo was down 38% from the hip-hop drama’s Season 1 penultimate episode on March 11, 2015. Even with its previous week in the demo. like this week was, that 9 PM Empire drew a forcible 5.8/17 rating and an impressive 14.9 million viewers – up a bit from the previous show. As it did mostly last year, that Season 1 Empire near-ender had an American Idol offering as a lead-in. That’s not the case this year with the weaker Rosewood (1.1/5), which was down a tenth from last week.
Overall, Fox won the night in the demo as it does with Empire with a same-as-last-week 2.4 rating, while CBS was tops again in viewers with 7.11 million watching, which was down 15% from May 4.
Empire wasn’t the only primetime network show in penultimate mode last night as Survivor (2.1/8) saw a winner in sight for its two-hour May 18 season ender. Like Empire, the Mark Burnett-produced reality vet also was even with last week. A double dose of Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders at 9PM (1.1/4) and 10 PM (1.1/4) saw the spinoff down 39% from the Criminal Minds season finale in the first slot last week. CM:BB’s regular 10 PM slot had the newbie down a tenth from last week to hit a low in the early numbers.
It was a better and more active night for NBC with Law & Order: SVU (1.4/5) jumping 27% in the 18-49s from last week’s series low. Also hitting a series low on May 4, Chicago P.D. (1.4/5) bopped up 8% last night. Starting NBC’s prime, tepid newbie Heartbeat (0.7/3) was down a tenth.
Over on the CW, Arrow (0.8/3), which is heading toward its own Season 4 finale on May 25, saw a rise of a tenth. Lead-out Supernatural (0.7/2) also was up a tenth among the 18-49s.
It was steady Freddy night on ABC too, with comedies The Middle (1.6/5) and The Goldbergs (1.8/7) down a tenth from last week. Tied with Survivor for the No. 2-rated show of the night, Modern Family (2.1/7) also was down a tenth, while black-ish (1.6/5) was even. Nashville (0.9/3) ended the Disney-owned net’s night with a 13% rise. As the country drama has seen adjustments in later numbers in recent week, it might shift again.