Trio of NBC dramas hits renewal trifecta

'Third Watch,' 'West Wing' return next season

Frosh NBC hours “Third Watch,” “The West Wing” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” will all be back next season, giving the Peacock its best renewal rate for first-year dramas since 1987.

Strong Nielsen perf of Wolf Films/Studios USA’s “SVU” made it a shoo-in to return next fall, while Warner Bros. Television’s “West Wing” has also been considered a likely returnee due to strong critical support and its above-average number of high-income viewers.

Early renewal of WBTV’s “Third Watch” is a bit more surprising. Show is averaging 11.56 million viewers this season and has not yet caught fire since moving to Mondays at 10 p.m. this winter.

Trio of pickups means NBC will bring back at least three-fifths of its 1999-2000 roster of five new dramas. Of the remaining two hours, “Cold Feet” was quickly yanked after a handful of segs, while “Freaks and Geeks” is considered a long shot at best to return.

“The work of each series continues to improve and the audiences have responded as well as the TV critics,” said NBC Entertainment prexy Garth Ancier. “We look forward to even more entertaining storylines next season.”

“West Wing” is averaging 12.97 million viewers Wednesdays at 9, while “SVU” regularly brings in an aud of 12.36 million pairs of eyeballs Fridays at 10.

Renewals were especially good news for John Wells, who serves as exec producer of both “Third Watch” and “West Wing.”

“The support NBC has shown for both of these shows has been terrific,” he said. “We couldn’t have better partners and are delighted we’re going to make more.”

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