February 16, 2015

Empire: How Fox’s new show is defying the rules


There’s lessons for us all in the rise of Empire.

Fox’s hip hop record label drama broke records last week with an unprecedented surge in ratings. The series, starring Terrance Howard, is being hailed as a sudden and surprising televisual success after having seen a week-on-week growth in viewership, an increasingly rare and unexpected ratings trajectory now seen in broadcast television.

Catering to the needs of a new audience that prefers to consume fragmented, cross-platform content is a challenge that many broadcasters are now faced with. At a time when they’re struggling to adapt to the ever-evolving digital consumption habits and demands of their audiences, Empire is defying the rules.

Figures indicate that a solid 62% of the show’s audience are African-American, underlining the real benefits of targeted marketing, a diverse outlook as well as being visionary enough to create content that resonates directly with minority audiences, who then go on to form the core foundation of your audience.

Word-of-mouth appears also to be a key component of the show’s success, as it continues to gain traction on social media. Viewers are creating hype online and in turn, proving to be the unprompted distributors of the broadcaster’s content.

The casting of real musicians to play the show’s characters, a partnership with Columbia records and the use of original songs within the show proves an innovative and inspired flip on the (now severely tired) reality singing contest format.

Enter Timbaland as Executive Music Producer for the show (almost assuming a credible ‘talent show judge’ role) together with optimised YouTube content (music videos in the show are uploaded to and exist in their own right on YouTube with 1 million+ views), the drama has managed to build its audience on multiple platforms that successfully funnel through to the main show itself.

It’s also worth watching for those that enjoy high profile, ridiculous cameos from the likes of Naomi Campbell and Courtney Love.

Interested to learn more about multi-platform content for broadcast? Check out our Snapchat campaign for E4’s ‘Glue’.

16.02.15, Will de Groot, Junior Planner at Livity