Fox took a gamble on this show, for a cast considered of so-called "tokens" may not appeal to the white majority in America. The pilot of the show got a surprisingly positive result; however, Fox was expecting the ratings and viewers to drop for the second episode. This is a common trend among new TV shows - many people tune in for the pilot, but then don't return next week.
However, Empire became even more successful this week. Empire had a total of 10.29 million viewers on Wednesday night. The number of people tuning into Empire went up 5% this week compared to the pilot episode. Usually, if the number of viewers decreases 12% after the pilot episode, then the show is considered very successful. The fact that the number of viewers rose clearly illustrates the surprising success of this show.
Compared to other shows on Wednesday night, Empire did remarkably well. Fox's American Idol, which came on right before Empire, got a total of 10.66 million views. This is only 0.37 million more views than Empire, and American Idol has already been running for 14 seasons. American Idol has had years to build up its audience, while Empire has only had one week. Criminal Minds, a popular show on CBS, also aired at 8/9 C on Wednesday night (same time slot as Empire). Criminal Minds only got 10.17 million viewers, so Empire had a larger audience than an extremely popular show. People chose to watch Empire over Criminal Minds on Wednesday night.
The early success from this show proves to Fox and all other networks that Americans will have positive feedback about an African American drama. Hopefully, the success can continue and we can continue to have more African Americans staring in shows for other reasons than just being a "token".