Basic-cable channel will begin airing first five seasons this fall
"Friday Night Lights," the critically acclaimed but audience-deficient NBC drama, will continue to live on when production on the series ends after next season.
ABC Family confirmed that it has acquired cable syndication rights from NBC Universal Domestic TV Distribution to air five seasons of the show, beginning in September.
The fourth season will end its run on NBC this summer, with 13 more first-run episodes scheduled to air next season on DirecTV and NBC.
The show, from Universal Media Studios, Imagine Entertainment and Film 44, premiered on NBC in fall 2006 and, despite soft ratings, was renewed for another season.
When the Hollywood writers strike ended production of the show after filming 15 episodes during the 2007-08 season, there was speculation that "FNL" would not be renewed.
But NBC worked out a cost-savings deal with DirecTV, under which 13 new episodes during a third season would be televised first on DirecTV to start the 2008-09 season, and then air on NBC that spring.
NBC then renewed the show for two more seasons, 13 episodes each, under the same agreement with DirecTV.
Episodes for the final season will be shot this summer and be televised on DirecTV and NBC during the 2010-11 season.
ABC Family will begin televising episodes from the first season this fall.