FX’s critically acclaimed event series “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” is off to a record-setting start, as nice lifts in time-shifted viewing has helped it become the network’s most-watched premiere ever.
In Nielsen’s “live plus-3” estimates, which include three days’ worth of time-shifted viewing, the initial airing of “The People v. O.J. Simpson” averaged 8.3 million total viewers, including 4.2 million adults 18-49 (a 3.3 national rating). The premiere had already established a same-day network viewership record for a drama, with 5.11 million people watching last Wednesday, but the L+3 number puts it ahead of comedy “Anger Management,” which had been the most-watched FX series opener in same-day numbers (5.6 million).
Among all FX premieres over the years in adults 18-49, last week’s premiere of “People v. O.J. Simpson” beat the series premiere of No. 2-ranked “The Shield” (3.0 million) by 40% and No. 3-ranked “American Horror Story” (2.8 million) by 50%. And in total viewers, the 8.3 million easily topped the series premieres of “The Shield” and “Justified,” both of which opened to 4.8 million viewers.
When counting two encores of the series last week, “The People v. O.J. Simpson” drew 12 million total viewers, including 6.1 million in the 18-49 demo.
The first season in an “American Crime Story” anthology franchise created by Ryan Murphy, “The People v. O.J. Simpson” has garnered the best reviews for any television premiere of the year, according to Metacritic. In his review, Chief TV Critic Brian Lowry of Variety praised the drama’s “illuminating touches and stranger-than-fiction moments” and called the performances of the marquee names in the cast “almost uniformly superb.”
“The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” is based on the book “The Run of His Life: The People V. O.J. Simpson” by Jeffrey Toobin, and the series is a look at the Simpson trial told from the perspective of the lawyers. The star-studded cast includes John Travolta, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Sarah Paulson, David Schwimmer and Courtney B. Vance.