DIRECTV to Air ‘Friday Night Lights’

Would you subscribe to DIRECTV just to watch your favorite TV show?

That’s the hope of the satellite television provider, with their recent agreement to partner with NBC and help pay for the production costs involved in the series Friday Night Lights.

The series, popular with critics, and some viewers will be entering its 3rd season.DIRECTV will begin airing new episodes on its own entertainment channel, “The 101” starting on October 1st.NBC will then begin airing Friday Night Lights in February, 2009.

So while fans of Friday Night Lights will be able to watch episodes for free, they won’t be able to do so until 4 months after they air for the first time on DIRECTV. Currently there are 17 million households subscribing to DIRECTV.

So what will big time fans of Friday Night Lights do?Will the show entice them to switch over to satellite TV?

DIRECTV is betting it can pull in a good number of new subscriptions based on the agreement. While few may switch to Direct TV only because of Friday Night Lights, it could be a contributing factor to others trying to decide between Comcast, DISH Network and DIRECTV.

DIRECTV has pulled in millions of subscriptions over the past few years by becoming the sports entertainment provider of choice, leaving DISH Network far behind in this area.  Specialty sports packages such as NFL Sunday Ticket and NASCAR HotPass have separated DIRECTV from DISH Network.  While DIRECTV has made some modest progress in producing its own content for its in-house network The 101, Friday Night Lights is the company’s biggest jump into the content game.

The move makes sense from a financial standpoint.While no exact numbers have been released from either NBC-Universal or DIRECTV, obviously there was not the full investment that would be required in producing a new television show from scratch.DIRECTV satellite TV gets exclusive broadcast rights to Friday Night Lights for 4 months, and the ability to promote their satellite service as the only place to find the show during that period.

Eric Shanks, Executive Vice President of Entertainment for DIRECTV summed up the agreement this way:

“It has been an amazing experience to work with Ben Silverman and his team of forward-thinking executives at NBC to craft this groundbreaking deal.We are immensely proud to bring a show of such tremendous quality to DIRECTV’s channel 101 and are honored to have a hand in allowing ‘Friday Night Lights’ to live on for its extremely enthusiastic fan base. We know our subscribers will be thrilled to be the first to see the new episodes. It’s a great time to be a DIRECTV customer.”

As previously mentioned, the series has been a favorite with critics, but has yet to find a widespread audience among the viewing public.

The series was honored two years in a row by the American Film Institute as the Television Program of the Year.Friday Night Lights also received the George Foster Peabody Award in 2006. Another honor includes a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series (2007).

So will DIRECTV be able to expand its viewing audience?  That may be difficult, as their limited reach will not cause a widespread increase in viewers.On the other hand, it may be just the right move at the right time for DIRECTV, increase subscribers and customer loyalty.

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