Just when fans thought that "Friday Night Lights" was headed to the showers to clear out its locker and pack its duffel bag for the long humiliating walk into obscurity, it looks like the team of Jeff Zucker, Marc Graboff and Ben Silverman managed to toss up a hail Mary play in the fourth quarter to help the precarious Panthers rip victory from the jaws of defeat on the sun-scorched fields of Texas.
OK, enough of the football references.
Leave it to Nikki Fink over at Deadline Hollywood Daily to break the news that Friday Night Lights will have a third season after all. The producers of the show have apparently worked out a deal with NBC and DIRECTV (now owned by Liberty Media's John Malone) to air the episodes exclusively on the DTV network:
Clearly Malone is looking to distinguish DirecTV from its rivals on a content as well as price basis. "It's an innovative deal where NBC found a partner who will share costs and exhibition windows," an insider explained to me. So both NBC and DirecTV will be airing Friday Night Lights across multipurpose platforms.
Malone picked up the satellite company once Rupert Murdoch decided that it was too expensive to operate the way he wanted.
My guess is that the third season of the show will be in the form of exclusive content with DIRECTV on a pay-per-view basis. DTV is still in the process of upgrading their system to MPEG-4 standards, so they don't really have the time or effort to invest in some new technology for the show. It's much easier to just throw the episodes into PPV and let the consumers watch them that way. And it gives DTV some "exclusive content" bragging rights that they can use in their next wave of commercials.
Keep in mind that nothing official has been announced yet and the only source of information is Nikki's DHD posting from last night. Further, Nikki's article doesn't really go into detail exactly HOW DIRECTV is going to air the episodes, but none of that has stopped the other trades from publishing their "BREAKING" news about this deal.
Of particular note on people already patting themselves on the back for saving the show is Kristin Dos Santos over at E!. Kristin deserves the golden kneepad award as she happily sucked up to Comcast CEO Ted Harbert, stating that he was the first to call up NBC and pitch a network-sharing deal to save the show. Even if the information is true, its a little early to start bragging about being the one to rescue FNL. Bravo, Kristin, it looks like your blogging job is safe for another month or two.
I have been wondering when DIRECTV was going to get into the content origination business, maybe this is the first step. As soon as I can make a few phone calls and find out some more information, we'll provide an update here.
In the meantime, if you are interested in watching the full episodes of season 2, NBC has them online right now for free. Check them out here.