Ratings: Well that was to be expected

Empire_Cast_-_Official_Soundtrack_from_Season_One,_Album_CoverIn 2015, one show has done what very few manage to do. For every week, bar one, Empire had an unprecedented rise in the ratings and became the most talked about show in US television this year. The success of the show has been phenomenal with the music from the show delivering a Billboard #1.

As of its first season finale, Empire has now surpassed The Big Bang Theory as the highest rated scripted program in the 2014-2015 television season. The first season finale is also the highest rated debut season finale since May 2005, when Grey’s Anatomy ended its first season. Empire’s season one finale grew 82 percent from its series premiere, making it the show that has grown the most over the course of its first season since Men in Trees during the 2006-2007 season.


But with TVNZ fast tracking many new shows to their on demand service, for some bizarre reason they chose to hold on to the series and debuted Empire last night, more than two months after the 12 episode series had completed its run in the US.

Unsurprisingly, Empire tanked last night with an average audience of 148,010 viewers and was beaten by TV3’s NCIS. Nearly half of the audience that had tuned in for My Kitchen Rules bailed at the end of the show leaving Empire to struggle on debut.

It has to be one of the most baffling programming decisions in a long time. I am amazed that TV2 didn’t screen the series at 7:30pm on Sundays and put it up against The X Factor.

With such an appalling start, TV2 can only hope that the series will build as it did in the US. Unfortunately, I suspect that anyone interested has already added the season to their download queue and will be bypassing TVNZ altogether now.

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About the author

Regan is one of the co-founders of Throng Media.
If they're on, I'm usually watching Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, 24, Battlestar Galactica, The X Factor, Survivor, House of Cards, Mad Men and the NRL.
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  • Drew

    This show was bought on the open market and not through an output deal. Which may explain its delay and TVNZ has been cautious with US hits not working here, such as Scandal, Nashville and Revenge. If TV3 had held onto its Fox output deal, this show would of been fast tracked. Despite this the premiere is lower than How to Get Away with Murder back February and with all the hype HTGAWM didn’t sustain its premiere ratings here as interest wained, but HTGAWM continued to rate well in the key demos which maybe the saving grace for Empire if its 5 plus figures continue to tank. Its also interesting to see MKR not firing over 300k as it usually would (another victim of not fast tracking) and Shortland St not reaching 500k.

    • Shannon Ryan

      Yes there is major disappointment for TV2 this year, but they have no-one to blame but themselves for their negligence. They need a big overhaul, like moving Home and Away to 8:30 to prop up a US comedy at 9:00 followed by a superhero show, fast-tracked from late September.

  • benpaul12

    People don’t seem to watch decent US dramas on TVNZ/TV3. The only big-hit show that’s rated really well and watched by many are British shows – Broadchurch and Call the Midwife (to name a few).

    This relates to the inertia argument along with TV1 – and probably with the “British” element in older generations (like my parents).

    Mad Men used to screen on Prime and rated poorly, Blacklist has a following, but doesn’t rate that well, HTGAWM, NCIS, True Blood etc. are all trash shows that get average ratings but are probably pretty cheap for the networks to buy.

    Everything else is lapped up by Sky (Soho) or people just download/stream it.

    I wonder if GoT, MadMen, Boardwalk Empire etc. would actually rate that well if it was on free TV and at 8.30/9.30?

    • John McCready

      My view is that Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire and other classy cable/subscription shows would not draw good numbers on Free to Air networks here. There is a good debate going on right now if shows like Empire will travel outside of the USA. It tanked in Australia and now here on debut so evidence is indicating it will not travel well. For the record I loved every trashy episode, as I do with Nashville.

      • benpaul12

        ^ totally!

        Decent shows in the US are popular on TV because they’re always the first to get it, or it’s on TV before anyone else could get it on the internet illegally (and US audiences are so large that most shows do well).

        Everywhere else; even if the show is showed on pay-tv only a week behind all the true fans would’ve already seen it by illegally downloading it or VPN streaming because they can’t wait.

        We’re still in that lull point in NZ where its a blend of delayed broadcast on TV, blocked rights to streaming companies or too popular via illegal methods that there’s no commercial point showing it.

    • True Bloods an HBO show so probably not cheap. Boardwalk Empire was on PRIME and got dropped after season 2. They still play Thrones but are one season behind.

  • Kyle Wadsworth

    Most of the comments on TV2’s Facebook & Twitter promo suggest people have already watched the entire series. It’s remarkable

    • John McCready

      Also available on DVD from Amazon. TVNZ are just not up to play in this current digital environment, in my view.

  • Shannon Ryan

    Ummm… it’s an AO show. No way it would screen at 7:30 any night, let alone against a more well known (to NZ) music show. TV2 gave it a good lead-in with My Kitchen Rules and it still tanked, so there’s just not much interest in it, unfortunately. No dramas rate well on TV2 these days anyway (except for early episodes of The Flash) – I hate to think how low Step Dave season 2 will go!

  • Drew

    Empire did well in the key demos but not as spectacularly; http://www.screenscribe.net/channels/hd-ratings-empire-wasnt-built-in-a-day/