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TV ratings: 'Empire' debuts strong; 'Idol' tops night in viewers

#tvratings: @EmpireFOX is Fox's highest-rated debut in 3 years. The premiere drew 9.9 million viewers

Fox is off to a strong start this new year with help from its latest show, "Empire."

According to Nielsen, the drama earned a rating of 3.8 in the key 18-to-49-year-old demographic while drawing 9.9 million viewers Wednesday night, making it Fox's highest-rated debut in three years. It was first in the key demo and second-most-watched overall.

Created by Academy Award nominee Lee Daniels and Emmy Award-winner Danny Strong, the show follows music tycoon Luscious Lyon (Terrence Howard). After being diagnosed with a terminal illness, Luscious has to decide how to divvy up his business among his three sons: Jamal (Jussie Smollett), Andre (Trai Byers) and Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray).

"Empire" benefited from a lead-in from the one-hour "American Idol" season 14 premiere, which topped the night with 11.2 million viewers. It was third in the key demo with a rating of 3.2.

But the singing competition continues to drop in ratings. This season's premiere was down from last year's two-hour January launch, which pulled in 15.2 million viewers and a 4.7 rating in the key demo.

Still, thanks to "Idol" as well as "Empire," Fox was No. 1 overall and in the key demo. The network posted a rating of 3.4 in the key demo and averaged 10.4 million viewers.

Meanwhile, ABC came in second in the key demo with a rating of 2.0.

The network was fourth-most-watched overall with 6.3 million viewers.

Its hit sitcom, "Modern Family," was second in the key demo with a rating of 3.2 and third-most-watched overall with 9.2 million viewers.

"The Goldbergs" was up from its last original episode by 4% in viewers with about 7.9 million people tuning in. It was fourth in the key demo with a rating of 2.5. 

Also on the network, "The Middle" rounded out the top five most watched programs in the key demo with a rating of 2.3. The sitcom averaged 8.5 million viewers.

"Black-ish" was ABC's only show to see a decrease, dropping 9% from its most recent original episode on Dec. 10. It posted a rating of 2.1 in the key demo and averaged 6.3 million viewers.

CBS, which was third in the key demo with a rating of 1.6, was second-most-watched with 8.7 million viewers.

Its broadcast of the 41st annual "People's Choice Awards" drew 8.6 million viewers and rounded out the top five most-watched programs of the night. However, the awards show dropped 25% from last year with a rating of 1.8 in the key demo. 

The network also aired "The Mentalist," which was down about 7% from its most recent original episode on Dec. 28 with a rating of 1.3 in the key demo. With about 9 million viewers, the show delivered more viewers than the awards.

On NBC, "Mysteries of Laura," "Law & Order: SVU" and "Chicago P.D." were all up from their most original episodes on Dec. 10. 

"Law & Order: SVU," up 21% from its latest episode, was the most-watched program on the network with about 7.8 million viewers and a rating of 1.7 in the key demo. 

The network averaged 7.3 million viewers, making it third-most-watched overall. It was fourth in the key demo with a rating of 1.5.

For more news on the entertainment industry, follow me @saba_h

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

10:18 a.m.: This post has been updated with the latest Nielsen ratings for Fox TV shows.

This post was originally published at 10:06 a.m.

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