The Shield Debuts Down

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FX's acclaimed cop drama, The Shield, returned for season three Tuesday night to a smaller crowd than expected.

The season premiere scored a 2.4 rating with 2.8 million viewers, according to Nielsen. Last season, the average draw was 3.3 million viewers.

Looking at the shiny side of The Shield's debut: "The core audience came back nicely; 72% of the audience was adults 18-49 years old," said FX research chief Steve Leblang. Still, he concedes, network executives were "somewhat disappointed."

It may take a little time for viewers to find the show again. The Shield has been off the air for 11 months.