NBC wants to use its telecast of the 2009 Super Bowl as a platform to launch the new season of Saturday Night Lights, so the show's third season won't start until sometime next February. But you can watch it four months earlier if you subscribe to Direct TV's satellite service. New episodes of Friday Night Lights -- the same ones NBC will show in 2009 -- will begin airing on Direct TV's channel 101 on Oct. 1.
A couple of months ago, when it looked like a second season of marginal ratings had doomed Friday Night Lights, Hollywood was abuzz with gossip that it would move to Direct TV, which is hoping to lure customers away from satellite rival Dish Network with original programming. Apparently that was too expensive a proposition for Direct TV, and instead an agreement was hammered out to split production costs with NBC. "We're beyond thrilled that we have structured an innovative deal that allows us to continue to produce and air this beloved series,'' said NBC programming boss Ben Silverman in announcing the return of Friday Night Lights.
Silverman called the deal "a win-win for NBC, Universal Media Studios and Direct TV, not to mention the many passionate fans who adore Friday Night Lights." No doubt about the fans; whatever happens later, they at least get a third season of original episodes. As for everybody else, we'll see. How many new subscribers will this really bring to Direct TV? And how many viewers will still be left by the time Friday Nights Lights begins airing on NBC, especially with bootleg copies recorded from Direct TV zipping all around the Internet?