‘Empire’ Ratings Sink in First Episode Since Jussie Smollett Arrest

"Empire" premiered on Fox in 2015. (Credit: Fox)

Empire returned to Fox this week from its winter hiatus and saw its ratings sink.

In the first original episode since series regular Jussie Smollett was arrested and charged with filing a false police report, the show logged some of its lowest ratings ever, according to The Wrap.

Wednesday night’s episode — shot before Smollett was arrested — drew a total of 4.4 million viewers and a 1.3 rating in the advertiser coveted adults 18-49 demographic. The only episode to draw fewer live viewers (4.2 million) aired on Halloween 2018.

The series last presented an original episode on Dec. 5, which was seen by 5.043 million total viewers and garnered a 1.5 rating.

This week’s outing marked a 13 percent decline in both the demo and overall audience versus the December episode.

Read More: Jussie Smollett Enters Plea in Alleged Hate Crime Hoax

The numbers for Wednesday’s episode were also down 35 percent in the demo and 29 percent in viewers from the 2018 midseason premiere. That episode brought in 6.217 million viewers and scored a 2.0 rating.

The day after Wednesday’s episode aired, Smollett was arraigned in a Chicago courtroom. The actor pleaded not guilty Thursday to 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct.

On Jan. 29, the Hollywood star told police officers he was assaulted by two masked men yelling racist and homophobic slurs. Prosecutors later accused Smollett of orchestrating the attack to get attention.

In February,  the executive producers of Empire announced they would be cutting Smollett’s character from the remaining episodes of the show’s current season.