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NBC Renews 'Friday Night Lights' Through 2011

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LOS ANGELES (AP) - NBC is keeping the lights on for "Friday Night Lights."

The acclaimed series has been renewed for two more 13-episode runs and will air through the 2010-11 season, the network said Monday.

"Not only do we know the show is staying on, but we know exactly how many episodes we are going to do," said executive producer Jason Katims. "We'll be able to think about where we might want to lead to ... what kind of stories we want to tell."

The Texas football-and-family drama starring Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton has struggled in the ratings but has been a critical bright spot for NBC, drawing consistently good reviews and Emmy and Peabody nominations and awards.

NBC is glad to stand behind a high-quality show with "a tremendously loyal fan base," said Angela Bromstad, president of prime-time entertainment for NBC and Universal Media Studios.

The new seasons of "Friday Night Lights" will play on DirecTV before its network broadcasts, a continuation of the deal NBC struck this season to make the production financially viable.

The drama made its third-season bow on DirecTV this fall and then repeated on NBC starting in January. It airs 9 p.m. EDT Fridays.

The DirecTV showings may have eaten somewhat into the series' network ratings, Katims said, but he called the move "a pretty brilliant business decision" that kept the show alive without compromising its creativity.

The drama is averaging 4.5 million viewers this season, down 27 percent from its year-ago average of 6.2 million, according to Nielsen Media Research figures. But it's among the most popular prime-time series for upscale young adults, an audience favored by advertisers.

"The only thing we'd love for 'Friday Night Lights' in the next two seasons is to get the awards attention it deserves," Bromstad said. Although it's received several Emmy nods and won a trophy for casting, it's been overlooked in the best drama and acting categories.

"Friday Night Lights" received a George Foster Peabody Award in 2006.

___

On the Net:

www.nbc.com

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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