FX’s Justified Armed to Teeth With Ratings

FX’s newest original series Justified started with a bang, as the premiere episode drew 4.16 million viewers Tuesday night at 10 p.m., making it the second most successful launch in the network’s history.

Starring Timothy Olyphant (Deadwood) and FX veteran Walton Goggins (The Shield), Justified put up impressive demo deliveries, averaging 2.19 million adults 25-54 and 2.04 million adults 18-49. Moreover, the premiere served up 1.42 million men 18-49 and 1.42 million men 25-54.
 
Justified’s delivery of total viewers and men 18-49 ranks second all-time for an original series rollout on FX, just behind the March 2002 debut of The Shield (4.83 million/1.74 million). The premiere was No. 1 for the night in basic cable among all the key demos.

For its original series, FX guarantees against a four-run cume. Last night’s 11:10 p.m. encore notched an additional 1.85 million total viewers and 1.01 million adults 18-49; the network will also replay the series opener Friday night at 11 p.m. and Sunday at 11:30 p.m.
 
Developed by Graham Yost (Boomtown), Justified is based on the work of crime novelist Elmore Leonard, creator of such vividly realized characters as Chili Palmer (Get Shorty), Karen Sisco (Out of Sight) and Jackie Burke (Quentin Tarantino would rechristen the Rum Punch heroine in his 1997 film Jackie Brown).

Olyphant stars as Raylan Givens, a deputy US marshal who gets bounced back to his old Kentucky stomping grounds after gunning down a lowlife in a Miami hotel. Something of an anachronism, Givens metes out justice with a six shooter, eyes brimmed by a Stetson. On the other side of the law, Goggins returns to FX as Boyd Crowder, a drug-running neo-Nazi who has it out with his old buddy Givens.

FX closed out 2009 as ad-supported cable’s fifth-ranked network among viewers 18-49, drawing 780,000 members of the core demo in prime, up 9 percent versus the prior year. All told, the net averaged 1.37 million total viewers in prime, improving its deliveries by 10 percent from 2008 (1.25 million).

Related: Mediaweek TV Interviews Justified’s Yost