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Friday Night Lights: TV Show Renewed for Seasons Four and Five

Friday Night LightsIt’s official. After a weeks of keeping our fingers crossed, the powers-that-be at NBC and DirecTV have hammered out an agreement for two more seasons of Friday Night Lights.

Friday Night Lights revolves around a high school football team, its players and surrounding community. The large ensemble cast boasts performers like Kyle Chandler, Connie Britton, Zach Gilford, Minka Kelly, Taylor Kitsch, Adrianne Palicki, Jesse Plemons, Aimee Teegarden, Gaius Charles, Blue Deckert, Scott Porter, Derek Phillips, Brad Leland, Liz Mikel, Stacey Oristano, Nieko Mann, Kate Krause, Kevin Rankin, Louanne Stephens, Josh McVaney, Pablo D. Flores, Katherine Willis, Joey Truty, and Jeremy Sumpter.

Though the drama has a devoted core audience and is often praised by critics, it’s struggled to attract a widespread audience. Lights was barely renewed for its first and second seasons. Faced with cancelling the show last March, NBC made a deal with DirecTV to share the cost of producing a third season. As part of the pact, the satellite TV provider began airing the episodes last Fall and NBC started running them in January, once the DirecTV airings had finished.

By all accounts, DirecTV has been happy with Lights’ performance but they keep mum about their specific audience numbers. NBC has been running Lights on Friday evenings and they’ve been attracting a paltry four million viewers and a 1.3/4 in the prized 18-49 demographic. Without the DirecTV partnership, it’s obvious that the Lights would be cancelled.

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Supposedly the renewal deal was essentially wrapped up last week but then some more financial issues needed to be hammered out — regarding how much DirecTV would pay to run the episodes first and commercial free. According to Variety, It looked like the deal was off at one point but then everyone thought better of it and a deal was finalized. It’s believed that DirecTV ends up paying for a bit less than half of the show’s $2 million per-episode budget.

Execs at Universal Media Studios and Imagine (who own the show) were especially eager for the deal to go through because the double season renewal would bring the series’ episode total to 76, a decent number for a syndication package.

Under the new deal, DirecTV will once again have the rights to air the show first, with a second window for NBC. The series will continue to be shot in Austin, Texas which helps keep costs down through tax incentives. The fourth and fifth seasons, made up of 13 episodes each, will be filmed back-to-back which will help to reduce production costs even more than usual.

The double renewal may create a time issue for Jason Katims. Lights’ executive producer and showrunner has already committed to oversee NBC’s Parenthood remake. Should that be greenlighted to series, he’ll do double duty and oversee both shows. He says, “It will be a challenge, but I love Friday Night Lights so much, I would never walk away from it.”

He’s excited about the prospect of knowing that he has a full 26 episode commitment to play with, a luxury that is unheard of today.”That helps infuse the show with energy and gives us a very clear path where we want to go with the characters,” Katims said.

Chandler, Britton, and other key castmembers are set to return since they’re covered under long-term contracts. Kelly, Kitsch, Palicki and Gilford, whose characters are graduating from high school, won’t likely return as regulars but will be given arcs to finish out their time on the show.

Gilford recently told EW that he was excited about the show’s renewal but said that Katims told him that his character’s fate is up in the air. The actor is hoping that he can stick around. Gilford has a few possible scenarios in mind but acknowledges it would be a challenge. “They have to make sure it’s done in a way that will still keep the show about what the show’s supposed to be about, which is the high school football team.”

 

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{ 66 comments… read them below or add one }

Devin February 25, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Friday night lights is an amazing show, acting, directing and music.. this is my favorite show out there. We need to see a season 6 and even more!

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Andria Massie February 17, 2010 at 6:19 pm

I really hope that Friday Night Lights is brought back for a sixth season or more seasons. I love this show! My entire family watches it. It’s not just about the highschool football story line either (as one magazine qouted was needed to keep the story line alive) that makes for good television. We like following the characters as they get older and the hardships they face, while following Eric and Tammy’s roles as highschool figures. I hope NBC and DirectTV reconsider letting this show go!

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Felicia February 16, 2010 at 1:09 am

This show is amazing, one of the best ever on TV. I also 100 percent agree that this show would not be facing the problems it is today if it were to air on a different night!!
Its main audience is most likely those in their late teens to late 20s… viewers that are not likely to catch this show on a Friday night when they are probably aren’t sitting at home!! I have seen every episode up to date and have not watched a single one on TV… I first got hooked with a friend who had season 1 on DVD and I instantly bought season 2 myself on DVD. Ever since I have been watching it off the internet whenever the new episodes are released.

Bottom line is great show with real life interesting story lines that many people would love and really relate to if it just could get out to more people!!

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Chad February 14, 2010 at 9:38 pm

I too love this show. NBC, please listen to your viewers. Name another show that has support and demand like this one. We are hungry for excellent television. Music, writing, acting, camera work, it is all there! Keep it going! If you want to save NBC, keep this show going beyond season 5 and make more shows like it. Do something right for a change!

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Jason February 10, 2010 at 8:24 pm

It is on DirecTV channell 101. They are having a marathon on Saturday Feb.13th but I think it is only the last 3 episodes of season 4.
This is a great show. I agree 100% that it would work if it was on a different night. Friday just isnt a good night. Never has been.

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Jolie Phillips February 10, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Come on NBC…. Friday Night Lights is the best in television!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The directing and acting is AMAZING!! My husband and I are heart broken to hear there will be NO FNL after the 5th season. What are you people thinking???? You’ve got to rethink this,,,, there is No other show on that makes my family (teenagers included) gather around in the family room for a hour with NO interuptions and gets upset because the show wasnt long enough!
Everyone please take the time to comment to NBC regarding this if you LOVE FNL!!!

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Susnurse February 10, 2010 at 7:57 pm

I love Friday Night Lights – I have never missed an episode. I cannot believe this show isn’t on a network station – it is a quality show with true values portrayed every episode. I thank NBC and Direct TV for not taking away my favorite show. There is a large group of us at the hospital I work at (I’m a pediatric nurse) and we all love it!

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stewart aitken January 28, 2010 at 2:21 pm

hi am stewart aitken from scotland (uk) the only way i get to watch friday night lights is dvd av just struggled to get season 3 can u tell me how many seasons there r and how i could watch them,this would be much appricaited thanks for ur time

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lisa February 4, 2010 at 10:50 am

Stewart,
There are four seasons so far and yes, you can get the third season on Amazon and also on iTunes. The fourth season hasn’t been released yet. I am eagerly waiting. I don’t even like football and I am in love with this show! The directing and acting are the best I’ve seen in a long time.

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Sandra Bockman January 26, 2010 at 5:33 pm

I really love this show and hope NBC keeps it on.

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Patrick January 26, 2010 at 10:54 am

It’s on direcTV, i thought in April it will be on NBC.
Can’t we get a 6th and 7th season?

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Judy January 3, 2010 at 6:46 pm

When will Lights be back on NBC? Is it being shown on any other channels now?

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ellen December 30, 2009 at 8:38 pm

How did Lyla and Tim get back together? From 2nd to 3rd episode, all of a sudden they were back together. When did this happen?

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lara December 16, 2009 at 12:41 am

i really love this show,never missed a single episode of this.NBC rocks!

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Walt December 2, 2009 at 4:27 pm

Hey everyone, lets get on board with Brandon (ABOVE) and start letting NBC know to get this show back to us all, I agree with getting rid of Leno. As I said before if it was on another night I feel it would have better ratings, just because it had FRIDAY in the name doesn’t mean it has to be on that night. Just give it a try for this season and see what happens.

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Brandon November 30, 2009 at 7:53 pm

Take off Leno, and give us FNL. Come on NBC.

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