Two much-hyped original cable series, MTV: Music Television's The Osbournes
and FX's The Shield,
took different turns last week — one for the better, the other for the worse.
the "reality" series involving heavy-metal rocker Ozzy Osbourne's family, is on a ratings roll and continues to build.
But The Shield's
numbers have declined significantly from a hot start.
Last Tuesday, The Osbournes'
fifth episode earned a 4.4 household rating, up 57 percent from the 2.8 it posted for its March 5 premiere, according to Nielsen Media Research.
In MTV's target 12-to-34 demo, The Osbournes
notched a 5.5 rating last week, up 62 percent from the premiere's 3.4, according to an MTV spokeswoman.
While ratings for most series typically drop 10 to 15 percent or so after their premiere, The Osbournes
has been steadily growing in terms of households.
From the 2.8 household rating for its debut, in subsequent weeks the series posted a 3.2, 3.6, 3.7 and then last week's 4.4, according to MTV.
In its 12-to-34 demographic, The Osbournes
dipped with its fourth installment, from a 5.0 the prior week to a 4.5. But it rose to the 5.5 last week.
It's been a different story for FX's gritty police drama The Shield.
The fourth episode, which aired last week, registered a 2.2 rating — a significant decline from the 4.1 rating for its March 12 debut.
The Shield's second episode averaged a 3.7 and the fourth a 3.1.
FX didn't have much luck with its original movie last week, either. Big Shot: Confessions of a Campus Bookie
posted a 1.2 rating, the smallest household rating of any of the five telepics the network has done. FX's Glimpse of Hell
has performed the best, with a 3.3 rating.
An FX spokesman countered that Big Shot
performed well in the key demographic of men 18-to-34, with a 2.16 rating — ranking No. 4 with that age group on cable the night it aired (March 31).
FX said it would increase its marketing support behind The Shield's fifth episode this week, with a host of print and radio ads and cross-channel spots.
Network sources said FX officials were expecting the show's fourth installment, which didn't benefit from much promotional punch, to fall off into the 2.5 household range. With its strong opening — the best for an original dramatic series in basic cable history — expectations for The Shield
may have been unduly high.
"If you would have told them that The Shield
would have come out of the box with a 2.5 for its premiere, I'm sure they would have been thrilled," said a source. "The show is doing extremely well with its demographic target and it's averaging a 3.3 household rating. Let's see if [last week's rating] was the bottom."