Empire season 2"Empire" is back, and as big as ever. Wednesday night's season 2 premiere was watched by 16 million viewers and notched a 6.5 rating in the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic. Those numbers are just short of the season 1 finale record.

"Empire" stunned the industry earlier this year, when its ratings climbed week over week for the entire season — an unheard-of feat, particularly in this era of fragmented television viewership.

Fox is likely breathing a huge sigh of relief that "Empire" didn't suffer a sophomore slump, as many series do. And it's a very bright spot in a somewhat disappointing premiere week, with the network's "Minority Report" and "Scream Queens" debuting to soft numbers.

Whether "Empire" can match its tremendous first season growth, though, is another question. But even if it merely maintains these numbers, it'll be one of the rare blockbuster TV hits of the last few years. Fox is certainly capitalizing on that — ads in the season 2 premiere reportedly went for $750,000, a peak "American Idol"-like figure.

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Based on 22 critics

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