After returning to near-record ratings a week ago, “Empire” on Wednesday night finally succumbed to the gravitational pull that asserts its influence over all broadcast TV shows. The second installment of Fox’s hip-hopera took a bit of a tumble, shedding approximately 2.5 million viewers and dropping nearly 20% of its premiere-episode adults 18-to-49.
According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, “Empire” averaged a 5.5 in the all-important demo, which marked an 18% drop from the preliminary 6.7 notched by the season premiere.
For what it’s worth, most shows tend to drop between 15% and 20% between their first and second broadcasts. Some of those lost deliveries may be recaptured by time-shifting, but the only views likely to have an impact on ratings guarantees are in VOD or other streaming platforms that do not allow for skipping commercials.
While the “Empire” slippage is almost wholly irrelevant — its nearest competitor, ABC’s “Modern Family,” managed to eke out a 3.0 in the dollar demo — it does put an end to any talk that the show might repeat its unprecedented growth streak of a year ago. Since the Nielsen People Meters era began in 1991, no broadcast TV show had ever demonstrated uninterrupted weekly ratings growth… until “Empire” began subverting the laws of physics last winter.