Post Type:post American Horror Story | Viamedia

American Horror Story

Now this is one scary show, although “show” implies a continuity of sorts, which is not what FX’s hit series “American Horror Story” is all about. Now in its fourth season, this series re-invents itself each and every year, starting afresh in a new place and time with an entirely new set of characters. What isn’t new is the marvelous ensemble of actors, such as Jessica Lange, Evan Peters and Sarah Paulson, who re-appear each season as newly invented characters in compelling – and chilling – roles.

The current season, sub-titled, “Freak Show”, is set in circa 1950s Florida, where Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange) leads – you guessed it – a forlorn traveling freak show that provides the sort of macabre entertainment that passed out of fashion many years ago. Society has never been particularly kind to those who look “different”, but the garden variety persecution that usually occurs takes on an entirely new cast  as paranormal entities take an interest in the members of the freak show.

Based on data from Rentrak, it would seem as though a growing number of viewers just love to be scared out of their blooming wits! In its 2011 premiere season, American Horror Story turned in solid ratings, and ever since then audience levels have been going in only one direction: straight up! Through the first 7 episodes of the current season, American Horror Story ratings are practically double what they were just two short seasons ago:

Source: Viamedia analysis of Rentrak TV Essentials Data (Telecast Summary Report) for FX’s “American Horror Story” for the first seven episodes of the current and past three seasons. Ratings and shares are Viamedia time-duration weighted estimates for new “American Horror Story” airings only (no repeats).

FX’s “American Horror Show” has been a magnet for Viamedia cable clients. A very large magnet! Through the first two months of Season 4, the show has attracted well over double (+122%) the amount of advertising dollars versus the prior year (Season 3). That triple-digit increased is comprised of three components:

1)      77% rise in the number of 30-second units;

2)      26% rise in unit pricing;

3)      20% rise due to the multiplicative effect of units sold and pricing.

Source: Viamedia analysis of B.I.G. internal database (“Sports & High Profile Tracker”) across the 19 markets that exhibited local cable advertising on “American Horror Story” during the current and past season (October & November only).

What sets “American Horror Story” apart from a slew of standard horror picture shows is the high level of critical acclaim from several TV reviewers across the country (not to mention a significant amount of hardware for Jessica Lange.) Such a well-guarded, high profile cable series has attracted numerous other cable networks that –collectively — represent over 50% of total Viamedia advertising on the show. Indeed, over half of the Top 25 advertisers are competing cable networks:

Source: Viamedia analysis of B.I.G. internal database (“Sports & High Profile Tracker”) for any and all local cable advertisers who invested in “American Horror Story” over the current season (October & November 2014) and past two seasons (October – January 2012/13 and October – February 2013/14) across any and all markets.

As of this writing, one-third of Season 4 has yet to air, and based on current advertiser activity through November, our expectation is that demand will remain high right through the last episode, “Magical Thinking” (1/7/2015). And for those local cable advertisers locked out of the remaining episodes, this is hardly the last opportunity as “American Horror Story” will be returning next October for an entirely new (and spooky) fifth season.


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– Written by Jonathan Sims, VP Media Research, Viamedia