NBC and DirecTV have come to an agreement to bring Friday Night Lights back for its 4th and 5th seasons.
Continuing the arrangement that began this past season, DirecTV and NBC will share costs of producing the series with DirecTV getting first airing rights in the Fall. Like this year, each of the two seasons will consist of 13 episodes each.
“What [NBC Entertainment co-chairs Ben Silverman and Marc Graboff] have done with DirecTV has turned out to be a great deal and an amazing partnership,” said Angela Bromstad, president of primetime entertainment for NBC and Universal Media Studios. “We wish (“FNL”) had a bigger audience, but it has a very solid fan base, a great cast and a great leader. Jason [Katims] is such a talented writer. He makes exceptional television.”
It has been reported DirecTV will cover a little less than half of the $2 million per episode production cost, which according to Variety is already a modest budget for a network show.
Friday Night Lights has become DirecTV’s marquee show in helping to build up The 101, their network exclusive to DirecTV subscribers.
NBC would air the episodes at midseason. They began airing season 3 episodes in January, with DirecTV airing episodes from October to mid-January.
While rumors of the 2 season pick-up have been circulating for weeks, reports of talks breaking down over splitting the production costs emerged last week, but they resumed over the weekend resulting in Monday’s announcement.
The show has averaged a mere 4 million viewers in its NBC airings through 11 episodes this season, which is down from the 6 million averaged in the show’s first two seasons. But FNL continues to experience widespread critical and dedicated fan support.
With the current shape of NBC’s primetime line-up, keeping FNL on the air is both a cost-saving measure as well as a sort of save face for the network in desperate need of more critical and ratings hits. DirecTV also continues to bolster its line-up for The 101 with recent acquisitions of some short-lived, but critically acclaimed series.
For the studio, NBC Universal, bringing the total number of episodes to 76 helps the show’s syndication value.
On screen, there could be several changes in terms of casting as more characters are graduating this season and could see send offs similar to those given to Scott Porter (as Jason Street) and Gaius Charls (as Brian “Smash” Williams). Series leads Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton are signed to long-term contracts and are expected to be part of both seasons.
Behind the camera, executive producer Jason Katims is part of the NBC pilot “Parenthood.” If picked-up, he would have to find a way to juggle both series. Director Jeffrey Reiner is also attached to NBC’s pilot “Trauma.” It is possible for FNL to lose one or both if schedules can not be worked out.