'Monk,’ 'Shield’ Show Age

Venerable cable series Monk and The Shield are still drawing an impressive number of viewers, but both may be starting to show a bit of wear and tear on the ratings front.

Monk, USA’s Emmy-nominated detective series, launched the second half of its fourth season on Jan. 13 with a 4.3 household rating (5.4 million viewers), 11% below the dramedy series’ 4.8 rating (6.4 million) etched last July 8, when the first episode of season four debuted, according to USA officials.

Still, a USA spokesman said the network was very happy with the return. Monk’s numbers, he noted, were good enough to finish second among all ad-supported cable shows for the week of Jan. 9 to 15, behind only USA’s Jan. 9 episode of World Wrestling Entertainment’s Raw, which pinned down a 4.4 household rating, according to a Disney ABC Cable Networks Group analysis of Nielsen Media Research data.

Two weeks ago, USA said it would bring Tony Shalhoub’s obsessive-compulsive character back for a fifth and sixth season and that it had obtained syndication rights to the show — which averaged 5.1 million viewers for its original episodes last year — beginning in 2008.

For FX, the second episode of The Shield’s fifth campaign garnered a 2.3 rating (2.8 million) on Jan. 17, down 13% from the 2.6 rating (3.4 million) generated by the gritty cop drama’s Jan. 10 season debut. The numbers were off from the 3.2 and the 2.6 marks rung up by the show’s first two episodes of its fourth season on March 15 and March 22, 2005.

FX senior vice president of planning and research Steve Leblang said the show — which has added Forrest Whitaker to the cast, in place of Glenn Close — continues to draw the lion’s share of 18-49 viewers on cable on Tuesday nights. Further, the show’s second episode performed well despite going up against the opening week of Fox’s huge hit reality series American Idol.

“I can’t think of anything in basic cable that’s achieved this level of resilience and critical acclaim going into a fifth year,” he said. “It is still far and away the No. 1 show on basic cable on Tuesday nights.”

In other ratings news, AMC’s new original series Hustle generated a 0.45 rating in its Jan. 14 debut. The six-episode scripted series follows a team of London-based con-artists as they seek to swindle money greedy marks.

The Weather Channel’s new long-form series, Full Force Nature and It Could Happen Tomorrow, each whipped up a 0.5 rating with their Jan. 15 debuts.

In particular, ratings for the 9:30 p.m. airing of Tomorrow, which projected what could happen if a Category 5 hurricane hit New York City, registered a 60% increase over the Sunday night household average for first-quarter 2005. The program also posted an 84% jump among adults 25 to 54, versus the same time frame.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.