Lady Gaga’s debut on American Horror Story: Hotel clocked 5.81 million viewers Wednesday night at 10 PM on FX and a 3.0 rating in the demo (3.8 million viewers). The 90-minute premiere is down a tick from last October, when American Horror Story: Freak Show — featuring a bearded lady played by Kathy Bates, a two-headed killer, a David Bowie tune performed by Jessica Lange and a crazed clown among its offerings — drew 6.13 million viewers in Live+Same Day stats and a 3.1 in the demo.
That opening had been up 10% from the 5.54 million total viewers who watched the debut of AHS: Coven on Oct. 9 of ’13. The start to the fourth season of AHS last fall was a series viewership high over all three previous cycles. Among the key demo, that 92-minute Ryan Murphy-directed opener rose 3% from the rating enjoyed by its 72-minute predecessor’s premiere. The Coven premiere, which was the Season 3 opener of the Murphy and Brad Falchuk series, had been the most watched broadcast of AHS ever – until AHS: Freak Show hit town.
Early ASH: Hotel stats aren’t the final word on where this iteration will fit in the pantheon of American Horror Stories. This is a series loved by not-live viewers. Last season, with Live+3 viewing factored in, the AHS: FS season premiere debut (10 million viewers, 6.54 million demo viewers, 4.08 million adults 18-34) and encore runs clocked 13.36 million viewers – 8.6 million demo viewers and 5.25 million in the younger age bracket. That substantial amassing of delayed viewing made it the most-watched single program in FX’s 20-year history — including all programs with Live+7 deliveries.