Major hit status, of course, is relative these days. "Empire" achieves about a 4 Nielsen rating among adults 18-34, a 4.5 rating among adults 18-49, and a 5 rating among adults 25-54. By comparison, CBS' hit, "The Big Bang Theory," gets about the same rating as Empire among adults 18-49.
My 15-year-old son never misses an episode. He actually didn't see the first four episodes, but caught up on Hulu. He just told me he was going to have to stay up late to watch the finale. I said he should just DVR it, and he looked at me like I had two heads. Everyone in is school is going to be talking about it the next day, so he has to watch it live.
As the broadcast networks plan their schedules for next season, what lessons should they take away from this? First let's get some historical perspective.
So, what are the lessons we should learn from the success of "Empire"?
First, here’s what it doesn’t tell us. It does not mean that viewers are looking for shows with more diverse casts -- even though that may be true. It does not mean that viewers want more shows about hip-hop or the music industry. It does not mean viewers are looking for another "Empire."
It means exactly the same thing that all the other hit shows mentioned above meant. Viewers are looking for well-written, innovative shows, with great casts that gel, and isn’t just a clone of something they’ve seen before.
As is usually the case, most hits come as a surprise -- unless it’s another "NCIS" or "CSI." The next "Empire" is right around the corner, but we won’t know it until after it debuts. It’s one of the things that make this business at once so exhilarating and exasperating.