POSTED BY STUART LEVINE
After NBC announced at the May upfronts that that the small-rated but well-reviewed drama was shifting its timeslot to Friday at 10, network topper Ben Silverman announced at TCA on Monday that "FNL" is now moving up an hour to 9 p.m.
Net's new Friday night lineup now shakes up this way: "Deal or No Deal" at 8, "Friday Night Lights" at 9 and "Las Vegas" at 10.
Filmed in Austin, Texas, "Friday Night Lights" -- TCA-nominated for program of the year and a Peabody Award winner -- has a rabid fan base but was never able to generate any type of ratings momentum. The show was very much on the bubble as far as returning for a second season.
One reason the show came back is that it's relatively cheap to produce compared to other one-hour dramas.
"It's produced effiicently," Silverman said. "We're always looking at finding responsible ways (to get these type of shows on the air). It's less expensive than 'Heroes.'"
Added co-topper Marc Graboff: "You want to stay with the shows you're most passionate about. We don't want 'Friday Night Lights' and '30 Rock' to become quality shows that never caught on, like 'Arrested Development.'"
NBC is hoping the late August release of the first season DVD will create more audience awareness that will carry over into season two.
Graboff went on say the series has received a full-season (22 episode) order, meaning if ratings aren't stellar coming out of the gate this fall, don't expect immediate talk about cancellation. And the Friday night slot means the stakes for drawing huge numbers aren't as high as other nights of the week.
Silverman also said that the network will be marketing the show differently this season that last, when the promos were mostly based on the on-field activities. This year, Silverman said, much of the ad dollars would be put toward the family dynamics and interaction of the students at Dillon High.
"We want to see the family demo," he said.
-- Stuart Levine