FX's March 12 premiere of original police series The Shield arrested
record ratings for the fledgling basic network.
The controversial show generated a 4.1 Nielsen Media Research household
rating, making it the highest-rated premiere episode of a scripted series in
basic-cable-television history, according to FX officials.
The cop drama, starring Michael Chickliss (The Commish), raised
eyebrows with its graphic language and content but garnered positive reviews
'Critics and, now, viewers have recognized that this is one of the most
compelling shows on television, period,' FX Networks president and CEO Peter
FX is betting that The Shield will help to push the
general-entertainment channel's ratings into the same league as its competitors.
Through February, FX was averaging a 0.6 rating, well below USA Network's 1.7
and TBS Superstation's and Turner Network Television's 1.6 ratings.
'This combination of audience turnout and critical acclaim deepens our
commitment to branding the network through quality original programming,'
Liguori said. 'One episode, one series does not necessarily make the network,
but it's a quantum leap in the right direction.'
He added that the network has sold out advertising space for the next two
episodes of the 13-episode series despite late defections from a few advertisers
due to the show's content.
'We've sold out the first three episodes, so whomever left has been heartily
replaced,' Ligouri said.