Ratings: FX’s ‘Justified’ Scores Bad-Ass Debut (updated)

TV’s newest tough-guy hero gives FX its best premiere audience since “The Shield.” Oxygen scores, too

Last Updated: March 17, 2010 @ 4:43 PM

It was a big night for tough guys as FX’s "Justified" got off to a strong start.

FX’s much-promoted Timothy Olyphant drama "Justified" brought in a big audience Tuesday, scoring the best premiere for a series on the network since "The Shield" back in 2002. More than 4.1 million viewers watched the series’ 10 p.m. bow, with 1.42 million of them men 18-49 — the second-biggest bow for an FX drama in both categories since the aformentioned "Shield," according to Nielsen.

Another 1.85 million folks watched a late-night encore of "Justified," bringing the show’s total premiere-night sampling to nearly 6 million.

"Justified" has clearly started off as a dude show, with its men 18-49 audience accounting for nearly 75 percent of its under-50 tally of 2.04 million viewers. Its 18-49 men debut was the second biggest for any basic cable show, period. (One guess which show still has the record. Yup, "The Shield.") And it beat network competition in the young male category as well.

Overall, "Justified" was the top show on basic cable Tuesday and, with "Live Free or Die Hard" as its lead-in, led FX to win the night in young demos.

On the down side, "Justified" still skewed relatively old among the general population (read: women). Indeed, it doesn’t even make the top-five list for FX premieres in adults 18-49 (most of the shows on said list skew female).

That doesn’t mean "Justified" can’t expand its audience moving forward. The very male-friendly "Sons of Anarchy" did just OK in its first season before blowing up in all viewer categories in season two.

UPDATE: Apparently it was a good night for tough guys and bad girls.

Oxygen’s "Bad Girls Club" reunion special scored more than 2.6 million viewers from 10-11 p.m., making it the most-watched telecast ever for the network. Same holds true in adults 18-49 (1.78 million) and women 18-49 (1.38 million).

How big was "Bad"? Except for "Lost" and "American Idol," the series Oxy-cuted the competition, drawing a bigger women 18-34 number (1 million) than everything else in primetime Tuesday–including network shows.

With a "Bad"-ass boost, new spin-off "Love Games: Bad Girls Need Love (And Their Own Reality Show) Too" became Oxygen’s biggest debut ever. Airing at 11 p.m., the squeakquel scored 1.5 million viewers, with 624,000 women 18-49 and 472,000 women 18-34.

We’re expecting John Landgraf will be pouring shots over at FX HQ tonight, while perhaps Oxy chiefs Jason Klarman and Amy Introcaso-Davis will greenlight mani-pedis for the whole team tomorrow? (Actually, the Oxygen Girl can hold her liquor, so maybe she’ll get shots, too).