Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson, L) visits Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard, R) to claim her share of the company in the premiere episode of “Empire.” (Chuck Hodes/Fox)

The rise of Fox’s “Empire” has been fascinating to watch over the last few weeks, and things just keep getting better for the new hit show.

For an unbelievable seventh week in a row, the series — a primetime soap about a family dynasty divided by the fight to control a hip-hop empire — surged in the ratings, netting 13.8 million viewers on Wednesday. That’s up from last week’s 13 million viewers, up from the previous week’s 12 million.

And this is all without counting DVR viewings, which would add a few more million sets of eyeballs once the final stats are calculated. Last week, it was the sixth-most watched show on broadcast TV, excluding the Oscars, right behind the “Two and a Half Men” finale (13.5 million) and ahead of “Blue Bloods” (11.6 million). (The most-watched show, as it usually is, was CBS’s “NCIS” with 18 million.)

Just to give context, this never happens. Like, actually never. It’s record-breaking. In its fifth week on air, according to Entertainment Weekly, the drama became the first series since 1991 (when Nielsen started a new way of tracking ratings) to increase for a consecutive five weeks. And the juggernaut has only continued, which is why trade publications like Variety say they need to find terms of description for it that go beyond “megahit” “phenom” and “unprecedented.”

[RELATED: How ‘Empire’ charts the rise of hip-hop through fabulous fashion]

There’s no question that expectations were high for “Empire,” with its star-studded cast including Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson. Still, even shows that get dynamite ratings for the debut episode (9 million viewers in the case of “Empire”) generally see them dip by the second. Or if the ratings rise in the second, they fall in the third. That’s just the way TV works.

But “Empire” has defied all odds, thrilling Fox executives and sending the rest of the TV industry scrambling to figure out the secret. Has Hollywood finally realized that people are thirsting for more diverse programming? Or is it the music? The acting? The power of Taraji P. Henson?

[RELATED: With shows like ‘Empire,’ ‘black-ish’ and ‘Cristela,’ TV is more diverse than ever]

Either way, the show doesn’t look like it’s slowing down anytime soon. Just for comparison, here’s how things played out for some other much-hyped shows with splashy debuts:

“How to Get Away With Murder” (ABC, 2014)
Premiere: 14.3 million
Second episode: 12 million

“The Crazy Ones” (CBS, 2013) 
Premiere: 15.6 million
Second episode: 11.7 million

“The Blacklist” (NBC, 2013)
Premiere: 12.6 million
Second episode: 11.3 million

“2 Broke Girls” (CBS, 2011)
Premiere: 19.1 million
Second episode: 11.7 million

“The X Factor” (Fox, 2011)
Premiere: 12.5 million
Second episode: 12.5 million
Third episode: 11.8 million

And this will surprise you:

“Lost” (ABC, 2004)
Premiere: 18.6 million
Second episode: 17 million

Make no mistake: “Empire” is one of a kind.

READ MORE:

How ‘Empire’ charts the rise of hip-hop through fabulous fashion

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