Are Advertisers Scared of ‘Empire’ on Fox?

My penchant for waiting until a show has been on the air for a few seasons before getting into it has, admittedly, spared me from such first-year cancellation heartbreak as was felt following Chicago Code and other rookie-season terminations. However, as I’ve recently seen with The BlacklistGotham, and as I hope will continue when Better Call Saul premieres Sunday, catching a new show the first time everyone else does can be a gratifying experience.

That’s why, though I did have some doubts, I am glad that my bet on Fox’s Empire has paid off.

Image via Variety

Honestly, I had some problems with the first episode of Empire — namely, the acting, which for the most part, came off as half-hearted & read of cue cards. I did, however, really get into the story; and, along with it, Taraji P. Henson’s brilliant characterization of Cookie.

Fortunately, most of the rest of the cast has picked things up since the pilot; and, besides for the cringe-worthy “call” between Terrence Howard and Barack Obama in episode 2, Empire has become one of my favorite hours on network television.

Not only has Empire become a personal must-see, but, it’s raking in the audience, too. Going against historical TV precedence, Empire on Fox has actually increased its viewership week-over-week — the pilot drew 9.9 million eyeballs, while last week’s episode brought in 11.3 million.

The critics agree as well: VultureVanity Fair, and THR have all weighed in with positive reviews of the hip-hop centric drama.

So why, then, has Fox chosen to present Empire with “limited commercial interruption”??

Fox should be making a killing off the show, which is making waves in the highly-coveted 18 to 49 demo (62% of which are reportedly African-American) and dominating social networks like Twitter. One would expect, as a result of the hype, Fox would be looking to sell more airtime — not less.

And before you start to say what I know you’re thinking; no, I do not believe that Fox is doing this as part of some intentional ploy to keep viewers interested. I could see that happening for the pilot, or for some “special episode” purposes — but, it’s not like network TV (which relies 100% on advertising) to simply deny itself revenue as a sort of marketing gimmick. Besides, DVR use is still on the rise a decade-plus after it first became available, meaning fewer people are *actually* watching commercials anyhow.

Now, a perfectly acceptable alternative to the “advertisers are scared” theory is simply that Fox is allowing Empire‘s writers to go a bit beyond the 47-minute mark traditional to hour-long dramas. I’d find that easier to accept if this was season 2; but, these episodes were produced long before the pilot premiered — and if Fox was that confident the show would be a hit, I would think they’d want to leave as much room for commercials as possible.

So, what do you think? Are advertisers afraid of spotlighting their products on Empire due to the subject matter? Weigh in below!

  • Bleau Gumms

    We the People just have negro fatigue

  • ツthe met✌gala™✍

    The show is the best hour in television along with AHS: Hotel