Fox’s Hip-Hop ‘Empire’ Draws 16.5 Million Viewers in Finale

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Fox’s hit drama “Empire,” one of the top new shows of the TV season, closed out its initial run with an average of 16.5 million viewers, giving the fourth-place network a much-needed ratings boost.

The show, a family drama set in the hip-hop music world, delivered Fox’s biggest Wednesday night audience in more than three years among younger viewers, according to Nielsen data released by the network, part of 21st Century Fox Inc.

Fox has struggled to find fresh hits to replace “American Idol,” a former ratings leader that still ranks among the top shows each week. Through the season to date, “Empire” is the most-watched new show in the 18-to-49-year-old demographic that advertisers target. The network’s audience is down 24 percent from a year ago.

“Congrats to all at Fox,” Rupert Murdoch, the parent company’s chairman and chief executive officer, said on Twitter. “Last night’s spell binding ‘Empire’ won huge audience. Deservedly.”

The two-hour finale, featuring Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, has produced the highest ratings for a new series since the first season ending of “Grey’s Anatomy” in 2005, Fox said.

Hulu LLC, the online video service owned by Fox, Walt Disney Co. and Comcast Corp., said Wednesday on its blog that it obtained exclusive streaming rights to the series from Fox for current and future episodes. Season one is available now, the company said.

“Empire” was created and is produced by Lee Daniels, whose feature film credits include “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and “Monster’s Ball.”