Fox’s “Empire” season three premiere ratings did not live up to the series typical high-standard. However, the must-watch show’s return this week still managed to bring in a respectable number of viewers.

The series suffered a big drop in its 18-49 demographic in comparison to last year’s season two premiere.

These “Empire” Season 3 premiere numbers are big — the problem is, they’re not “Empire”-big. The Lee Daniels hip-hop soap opera tumbled 39 percent last night in the key 18-49 demographic versus its sophomore season start. It still handed Fox an easy Wednesday win, however, and was essentially steady with its Season 2 finale. “Empire” followed a decent debut from the new cop show “Lethal Weapon.” Last year, lead-in “Rosewood” fared better in the main demo, but worse among overall viewers. (The Wrap)

Despite the dip, “Empire” still managed to bring in over 10 million viewers.

“Empire” was the night’s top show, drawing a 4.1 in the demo and 10.8 million total viewers, but was down significantly from last fall’s season-two debut (6.7, 16.2 million). The series premiere of “Lethal Weapon” at 8 p.m. drew a 2.2 and 7.8 million viewers, down 8% in the demo, but up 4% in total viewers from the series premiere of “Rosewood” last fall in the same time period. (Variety)

Last night (September 21), rap star French Montana boasted about his “Empire” season three cameo.

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Buzz developed earlier this month about hitmaker Timbaland leaving the show.

Timbaland, who helmed the songwriting team for Empire since its inception, has exited. Joining Fox’s hit television series for its third season (Sept. 21, 9 p.m. ET) are four-time Grammy Award-winning songwriter/producer Rodney Jerkins as supervising music producer and chart-topping songwriter Ester Dean. (Billboard)