Kicking off on the night of last year’s election and Donald Trump’s ascension to the Presidency, there was a lot of 2016 in the debut of American Horror Story: Cult. But not the numbers: with 3.93 million viewers and a 2.02 rating among adults 18-49 on September 5, the latest installment of the Ryan Murphy- and Brad Falchuk -created series premiered down significantly from last year’s season opener of American Horror Story: Roanoke.
In overall sets of eyeballs watching the politically drenched Cult, there was a 24% drop from the September 14, 2016 premiere of Roanoke. Among the key demo, the Tuesday installment topped cable and was the second highest-rated original on all of TV after NBC’s America’s Got Talent. Yet, even with that glory, Cult declined a hard 29% among 18-49s from the Wednesday Roanoke debut of 2016.
In fact, the Cult opener is the least-watched AHS debut since the 3.85 million who tuned in for the Asylum premiere on October 17, 2012. The least-watched AHS debut ever was the Murder House Season 1 premiere on October 5, 2011, which drew 3.18 million. However, while not apples to apples, the Cult opener did perform noticeably better than Roanoke’s closer of November 16 last year (2.45 million viewers, 1.3 rating).
Of course, FX has long said it doesn’t put a lot of stock in Live+Same Day numbers and instead waits for delayed viewing results. If last season is any indication, they should continue to be healthy for the AHS franchise now in its seventh season.