If someone told Ryan Murphy that his show about a twenty-one year-old case might need a new ending when it first aired, he may have told them that they were crazy. Now, he’d have to apologize, because despite the fact that the OJ Simpson trial ended in October of 1995, it’s made its way back to the headlines in a bad way–and a good way, depending on whether you’re Mr. Simpson or the show based on him.
The latter, FX’s The People vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story, actually benefited greatly this week after a knife supposedly connected with the long-cold murder trial was discovered on the real OJ Simpson’s old estate in Brentwood over the weekend. The series, which had been already drawing large pools of weekly watchers in an almost surprising way, experienced a vivacious ratings jump of 10%, according to Variety–which for a Tuesday night show a smidgen past prime-time hours is huge.
Because the network itself has not officially released its three-day ratings report yet, some might assume that this supposed ratings leap may be jumping the gun a little bit, maybe pulling a CNN and calling the primary results before the polls even close. But like CNN and their rushed enthusiasm for Michigan primaries, the ratings numbers are most likely correct–according to Nielsen, a leader in ratings surveillance around the world, their “live plus same-day” estimates concluded that 3 million Americans tuned in last night to follow up on the proceedings of the fictionalized retelling of one of the most famous murder trials in history.
The Nielsen estimate also surmised that The People vs. OJ Simpson notched a 1.25 rating among the most desirable demographic, 18-49 year-old adults, which boosts the series from its normal average of 1.15 by 8%. Essentially, 240,000 people within this age range had the choice to watch the “newest,” so-to-speak, OJ Simpson development on FX, Limitless on CBS, which scored a 1.1 rating, Of Kings and Prophets on ABC, which scored an even lower 0.8, or continue bingeing the new season of House of Cards on Netflix, like everyone else, at 10pm last night, and chose Simpson, and it’s incredibly likely that that fresh viewership didn’t tune in just for the acting and storytelling.
The sixth episode of the series, which was the one that aired last night, is not actually the ratings-king of the season–that title belongs to the premiere episode, which destructed FX’s previous viewership record that formerly belonged to The Shield and American Horror Story when it gathered 12 million total viewers, over half of which came from the 18-49 demographic.
Still, the ratings boost was much needed, as The People vs. OJ Simpson had taken an dive in ratings since the premiere, according to The Wrap. It fell right behind the lead in original scripted TV shows, AMC’s The Walking Dead, but if more spirals out of the knife development in what was thought to be a shut case, maybe that will give the show what it needs to slide into first place.