Price Jumps for 30-Second Spots for Ratings Hit 'The Shield'

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LOS ANGELES ( -- As ad-supported cable and broadcast TV executives puzzle out how to capture Soprano-size buzz and still keep advertisers happy, one controversial but highly praised drama being closely watched, FX's The Shield, has captured new business.

Now, after establishing itself as the fifth-highest-rated regularly scheduled cable show, The Shield has 11 new advertisers, according to network executives. That's good news for a show that in its first weeks saw key advertiser defections due to concerns over its violence and coarse content.

Among the new advertisers are video-game makers Activision and THQ, as well as Diageo's Captain Morgan Gold, an alternative malt liquor, according to Fox executives. Calls to these advertisers were not returned by press time.

Telecoms and Palm
Fox wouldn't reveal other advertisers, but other media executives reported two telecommunications companies, a movie studio, consumer-electronics company Palm and one male-oriented

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package-goods product have signed on.

"History has proven that a quality show can live on and be very successful from an economic, viewership and critical-acclaim standpoint," said Bruce Lefkowitz, executive vice president of Fox Cable Networks Advertising Sales. "Look at Married with Children, NYPD Blue, All in the Family."

Prices up
Before the show's debut, advertisers could have bought the show for as low as $5,000 for a 30-second spot, which includes two repeat airings. Now, because of the show's rocketing ratings, the show is commanding prices from $25,000 to $55,000 for a 30-second spot, a media executive said. After five episodes, The Shield is averaging 3.7 million viewers and 2.4 million adults 18 to 49 years old, according to Nielsen Media Research.

"It may cause other cable networks to reconsider their programming strategy," said Brad Adgate, senior vice president of audience research for media buying agency Horizon Media, New York.

Soon after its March 12 premiere, The Shield was hit with defections from major advertisers due to content concerns or pressure from TV viewer groups. New Balance, Office Depot, Diageo's Burger King, along with Tricon Global Restaurants' KFC and Pizza Hut left the show after the premiere.

Staff writers Kate MacArthur, Hillary Chura, David Goetzl and Tobi Elkin contributed to this report.

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