By: Tom Ritondale
As an avid fan of FX’s critically acclaimed “American Horror Story”, I was naturally anxious about the series’ third season, “American Horror Story: Coven”. This latest season follows the lives of young witches being taught by the “supreme” witch of their time, as played by Jessica Lange. This story, however, has no connection whatsoever to the show’s previous two seasons, the first revolving around a haunted mansion; the second an insane asylum.
This past week, “American Horror Story: Coven” reeled in a record breaking 5.5 million viewers for its season premiere—a 44% increase when compared to the premier of the show’s second season “Asylum”. What has caused such an increase? There are two distinct answers to this question, one of which is Coven’s independence from its preceding seasons, while the other is FX’s short and attention-grabbing advertisements.
What separates “American Horror Story” from other television programs is that a new viewer does not need any prior knowledge in order to watch any of its three seasons—each one its own mini-series. While the cast is consistent, they play completely different characters each season. This is a huge hook to get new viewers on the AHS bandwagon. The ability to tune-in without any Netflix binge-watching is a convenience for viewers, and these condensed stories have been at the heart of the show’s success.
While the format is important, the success of Coven’s premier can likely be attributed to FX’s advertisements. These promotions are widely spread across social media vehicles (among other places) with short 15-30 second clips, each highlighting a different focus of the show. Coven’s advertisements have included “Initiation,” a clip of new witches marching into their boarding school, “Bullhorn” featuring a minotaur, and a third entitled “Voodoo”. Each clip was short and shocking; capturing the viewer’s attention and leaving them wanting more.
Overall, American Horror Story: Coven seems to be off to a good start thanks to its strategic advertising plans. With a brand new storyline and attention-grabbing promotions, the franchise seems to be advertising to great effect, with even greater results.