‘Empire’ Ratings Drip Drop Following Jussie Smollett Controversy

Posted March 15, 2019

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Empire‘ returned on Wednesday from it’s winter hiatus just a day after Jussie Smollett and his team headed to court to file paperwork in relation to the highly controversial alleged false police report that he filed.

‘Empire’ execs previously confirmed that Jussie’s character Jamal would still be seen in the first half of the episodes for the remainder of the season but would ultimately be cut out of the last two of the season.

All eyes have been fixed on how Jussie’s situation would impact the show, and on Wednesday (the first episode since the scandal), ratings were down for the hit show according to reports:

Last night’s 8 p.m. episode settled for a 1.3 demo rating/6 share among adults 18-49, and 4.412 million total viewers — those Nielsen numbers are way down from last year’s comparable hour and are even down double digits versus the hip-hop soap opera’s fall finale.

The previous original “Empire” episode on Dec. 5 had a 1.5 rating and 5.043 million total viewers. Last year’s midseason return put up a 2.0 rating and tallied 6.217 million viewers.

Wednesday’s hour was down 13 percent in both the demo and for the overall audience versus the fall finale, and down 35 percent in the demo and 29 percent in viewers from last year’s midseason premiere episode.

As a matter of fact, last night’s “Empire” drew the second-smallest audience and second-worst demo rating ever for “Empire.” The only episode to draw fewer “live” eyeballs (4.229 million) and a lower demo rating (a 1.2) aired on Halloween 2018, which makes sense, as people were out celebrating and not in front of their TVs.

That said, Fox and its regular abbreviated (compared with CBS, ABC and NBC) primetime schedule still finished first in key-demo averages, but it just barely edged ABC — with a different of 17,000 viewers — for third in terms of total viewers. NBC aired all reruns last night and still landed a bigger audience than both of those nets.

‘Empire’ execs are said to be discussing how to move forward with Smollett’s character for next season and toying between killing off his character or simply recasting the role.

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