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NBC renews "Friday Night Lights"
By Nellie Andreeva
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - "Friday Night Lights" fans can rejoice: NBC has ordered two more seasons of the critically lauded but ratings-challenged drama series.
The network and DirecTV have finalized a deal for a 26-episode order (two seasons of 13 episodes each) to the series about a Texas high school football team.
Under the pact, "Friday Night Lights" will continue to premiere on DirecTV with a second window on NBC.
Faced with the prospect of canceling the series because of its soft ratings, NBC first struck a pact with DirecTV last year to share the cost of the show's current third season, which did well for the satcaster in the fourth quarter.
Helping make the pickup economically viable is the fact that "Friday Night Lights" is very efficiently produced in Austin, Texas, where the show also enjoys tax incentives. To keep costs even lower, the two upcoming seasons may be filmed back-to-back. Season 4 will air next season, while Season 5 will run the following season.
Additionally, the two-season pickup for "Friday Night Lights" makes the show easier to syndicate as it brings its episode count to 77.
Most "Friday Night Lights" cast members, including stars Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, are set to return. Not coming back as regular is Minka Kelly, whose character has graduated.
"Friday Night Lights" was created by Peter Berg, the filmmaker behind the 2004 feature.
(Editing by Dean Goodman at Reuters)