‘Shield’ yields big aud

'People's Choice' up from last year's Sunday telecast

FX drama “The Shield” shows no signs of slowing down, apprehending more than 3.4 million viewers Tuesday with its fifth-season premiere.

Standing as the day’s top-rated cablecast, “The Shield” averaged a 1.7 rating/5 share in adults 18-49 (roughly 2.25 million viewers), just 5% lower than last year’s big opener, which was juiced by the debut of Glenn Close’s arc.

It comes in as the top-rated season premiere of any cable original for the 2005-06 campaign, although another FX drama, “Nip/Tuck,” had a higher season average in 18-49.

Usually a very male-skewing skein, “The Shield” opened to an 18-49 audience roughly 45% female. Aud for Tuesday’s preem was also younger than that of recent bows, with nearly two-thirds of all viewers (3.41 million) coming in the 18-49 age bracket.

On the broadcast side Tuesday, a different network led with a drama in each hour: CBS’ “NCIS” at 8 (4.0/11 in 18-49, 17.19m); Fox’s “House” at 9 (5.7/14, 14.83m); and NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” at 10 (5.6/14, 14.72m). Not faring so well opposite “House” was ABC’s “Commander in Chief” (2.8/7, 11.40m), which hit a firstrun low with its first new seg in six weeks.

The 32nd annual “People’s Choice Awards” on CBS (3.4/8 in 18-49, 9.75m) were up a tick year to year in some demos, so the kudocast at least stopped the bleeding after hitting an all-time ratings low last year with its Sunday telecast.

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