FX stunting ‘Shield’ to pump last 3 segs

'X-Files,' 'Die Hard,' 'ID4' pix to lead way to higher ratings

NEW YORK — Swiping a page out of ABC’s original winning strategy for “NYPD Blue,” FX has engineered three weeks of stunt scheduling to further ignite the ratings of its hit series “The Shield.”

Like “the Shield,” “NYPD Blue” in its first season (1993-94) faced boycotts by advertisers who were put off by the show’s willingness to push the boundaries of content. But when “Blue” continued to rack up big ratings week after week, many reluctant advertisers dropped their objections to buying time so they could reach the masses of upscale young adults who became fans of “Blue.”

“Shield” is already averaging slightly more than a 3 rating since it kicked off 10 weeks ago, making it one of the highest-rated original series in basic cable. FX’s plan is to push those numbers even higher by leading into the last three “Shield” hours of the season with a trio of the strongest movie titles in the network’s arsenal, all from sister company 20th Century Fox.

On May 21, the world TV premiere of “The X-Files Movie” provides the lead-in. A week later, “Die Hard III” will precede “Shield.” The season finale of “Shield” on June 4 gets “Independence Day,” in its basic-cable premiere, as lead-in.

In recent weeks movies and “Shield” episodes have propelled FX into one of the top-10-rated ad-supported cable networks and among the top five in adults 18-49 and 25-54.

In another ploy for bigger audiences, FX plans to schedule a special repeat edition of the season-ending episode of the Fox Network’s “24.” Instead of waiting the usual five days following the Fox run of “24” on Tuesday, FX will play the episode two days later at 10.