TV viewers are not voting with their eyeballs for FX’s “Impeachment: American Crime Story.” The much-hyped saga of former White House intern Monica Lewinsky’s frenemy relationship with whistleblower Linda Tripp that led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in the 1990s has not generated nearly as big an audience as predecessors “The Assassination of Gianni Versace” and “The People v. O.J. Simpson.”
Through its first eight episodes (of 10), “Impeachment” is averaging 1.398 million total viewers. That counts three days of delayed viewing, which mostly refers to DVR catchup. We’re not including this past Tuesday’s episode, the penultimate one for the anthology’s Season 3, because we do not yet have delayed viewing statistics.
That tally represents a 47% decline from the 2.629 million overall viewers “Versace: American Crime Story” averaged across its nine-episode season in 2018. (Without the ninth episode, the L+3 average was 2.659 million, so, same drop.)
We’re not cherry-picking a statistic there: That 47% drop is actually less rough than the show’s declines in key demos. Among adults 18-49, the current “Versace” to “Impeachment” decline is 53%. Among those aged 25-54, it’s down 49%.
Now, of course, a lot has changed in how we consume TV series over the past three years, and surely Live + 3 data will only end up representing a portion (though a not-insignificant one) of viewership, especially for “Impeachment.”
“Impeachment” will not be available to stream (except through a subscriber’s cable provider) for quite a while, when it ultimately heads to Netflix.
The first season of “American Crime Story,” which was 2016’s 10-episode “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” earned an average of 6.556 million total viewers per episode. That’s about two-and-a-half times more than “Versace” and more than four-and-a-half times more than “Impeachment” mustered.
To be fair, that argument about TV viewing habits changing in the past three years goes about double for a show that aired five years ago.
For what it’s worth, the series has also gone down in critical reception, according to Rotten Tomatoes, each season. The O.J. season was “Certified Fresh” at 97%, “Versace” was also “Certified Fresh,” but dipped to 89%. “Impeachment” is much lower, but considered “Fresh” (not “Certified Fresh”) at 68%. “Versace” also seven Emmy Awards and was nominated for 11 more. That sounds like a lot because it is a lot, but “O.J.” won nine Emmys and was nominated for 13 others. Obviously, it’s too soon to know how “Impeachment” will perform come the 2022 awards season.
Viewer interest in “Impeachment,” which tells the story of the first impeachment of a U.S. president in more than a century, may be organically lower than it was for the O.J. Simpson season, which dove into the so-called Crime of the Century. That same case feels very unlikely when compared with “Versace,” however. Bill Clinton’s Oval Office affair with intern Monica Lewinsky was much, much bigger national news than the 1997 murder of designer Gianni Versace.
Despite the declines, there seems to be no stopping the “American Crime Story” franchise (let alone the “American [Blank] Story” universe). FX has already announced plans for Season 4 of “ACS,” which will be set in ’70s NYC disco hot spot Studio 54.
“Impeachment” is executive produced by Ryan Murphy, Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson, Alexis Martin Woodall, Sarah Burgess, Sarah Paulson, Brad Falchuk, Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski and Michael Uppendahl. The series is produced by 20th Television and FX Productions.
The finale of “Impeachment: American Crime Story” airs Tuesday at 10 p.m. on FX.