The new series logged more than 11 million viewers last week, and has achieved the rare feat of growing its audience for each of its three weeks on the air, the Nielsen company said. The numbers don't include people who watched on a time-shifted basis after the first night.
Among the youthful 18-to-49-year-old viewers that Fox cares most about, "Empire" was the most-watched show of the week, Nielsen said. The previous week, it was beaten only by the Indianapolis-New England "Deflategate" football game.
The news couldn't be better timed for hit-starved Fox, which won the week among youthful viewers, helped also by more auditions on "American Idol." Fox's drama "Backstrom," starring Rainn Wilson as a crotchety detective, had a strong showing with just under 8 million viewers sampling its debut.
After only two weeks on the air, Fox ordered a second season for "Empire."
The CBS show "Scorpion" was the most-watched program among all viewers for the first time ever, taking advantage of a slow week where the normally popular "NCIS" and "The Big Bang Theory" aired reruns.
The "Miss Universe" pageant on NBC had its highest viewership since 2006. A big factor was its first placement on a Sunday night in six years; Sunday is normally the most-watched TV night of the week.
CBS won the week in prime time, averaging 8.5 million viewers. Fox had 5.4 million, NBC had 5.2 million, ABC had 4.5 million, Univision had 2.9 million, the CW had 1.9 million, Telemundo had 1.5 million and ION Television had 1.4 million.
ESPN was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 2.3 million viewers in prime time. Fox News Channel had 1.9 million, TBS had 1.85 million, the Disney Channel had 1.84 million and History had 1.79 million.
NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 9.4 million viewers. ABC's "World News Tonight" was second with 9.1 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 7.7 million viewers.
For the week of Jan. 19-25, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "Scorpion," CBS, 12.08 million; "NCIS," CBS, 11.98 million; "American Idol" (Wednesday), Fox, 11.76 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 11.52 million; "Empire," Fox, 11.07 million; "Mom," CBS, 11.05 million; "American Idol" (Thursday), Fox, 10.65 million; "Criminal Minds," CBS, 10.29 million; "NCIS: Los Angeles," CBS, 9.65 million; "The Mentalist," CBS, 9.6 million.
ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.