Ratings Ablaze for Rescue Me Finale

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Rescue Me, FX’s critically acclaimed firefighter series, concluded its first season with ratings heat, outperforming its season average across a number of metrics.

The Denis Leary-starrer pulled a 2.53 household-ratings mark Oct. 13, attracting 3.1 million viewers overall, 2.2 million of which were in the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demo, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Those performances from 10 p.m-11 p.m. (EST) -- coming against the third presidential debate and the Major League Baseball playoffs -- outpaced the series’ 13-episode season averages of a 2.3 household rating, 2.7 million viewers and 1.9 million adult 18-49 watchers.

FX officials said Rescue Me, which will return for a sophomore run in either late spring or early summer 2005, ranked first among freshman basic-cable series among the 18-49 set, marking the third consecutive year -- The Shield in 2002 and Nip/Tuck in 2003 -- the network claimed that distinction.

By way of comparison, The Shield -- production of which will resume late this year after star Michael Chiklis finishes his work in theatrical The Fantastic Four -- garnered an average of 2.1 million 18-49 watchers in its first season, while Nip/Tuck regularly carved up 2.2 million. The network said 71% of Rescue Me’s first-run audience was made up of the aforementioned demo.

During the 11 p.m. showing Oct. 13, Rescue Me pulled in a season-high 1.5 million viewers in that encore time slot, according to an FX spokesman. There, the concentration of adults 18-49 was even higher, totaling 80%, as 1.2 million of those watchers tuned in.

“Other original series like [USA Network’s] Monk have more total viewers, but our three original series really resonate with adults 18-49,” the spokesman said.

The fourth season of The Shield is expected to bow late in the first quarter or early in the second quarter of next year, while the third season of Nip/Tuck will likely begin next summer, the spokesman said.

In the interim, fans of the plastic-surgeon skein can relive all 29 episodes or catch up on installments they may have missed as FX will line up the first (13) and second seasons Sunday nights at 10 p.m. beginning Oct. 17.