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ABC Family acquires ‘Lights’ rights

Critical fave to air on cabler starting in September

ABC Family has acquired basic cable rights to air five seasons of “Friday Night Lights” from NBC Universal Domestic TV Distribution.

The low-rated but critically acclaimed series, which has been kept alive since the end of its second season in 2008 thanks to a co-production deal between NBC and DirecTV, will begin its syndication run on ABC Family in September.

“We’re thrilled to add NBC’s critically acclaimed series ‘Friday Night Lights’ to the mix of our defining original and quality acquired series,” said Tom Zappala, ABC Cable Networks Group exec VP of program acquisitions and scheduling. “The series is beloved by critics and viewers, and fits in perfectly with ABC Family.”

With 13 episodes scheduled for the fifth season, the deal gives ABC Family 76 total hours of the series.

” ‘Friday Night Lights’ is a perfect fit for ABC Family’s sensibility for the modern-day family program,” said Bruce Casino, senior VP of cable and ancillary sales for NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution. “ABC Family will introduce this award-winning show to a whole new audience segment, where the series can thrive in its new environment.”

The fifth and likely final season of “Friday Night Lights” is scheduled to premiere on DirecTV in October. NBC is now showing the fourth-season episodes that DirecTV aired last fall. According to sources, there were no discussions for ABC Family regarding the possibility of producing new episodes of the series.

“Friday Night Lights” has won a 2007 Peabody Award, a 2009 Humanitas Prize and three consecutive Writers Guild Award nominations for dramatic series (2007-09).

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