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NBC factors in more ‘Fear’

New skeins to air in summer or fall

NBC’s rivals have 22 new reasons to “Fear” the Peacock.

The network has ordered up a full season of 22 hourlong episodes of Endemol USA’s “Fear Factor,” the surprise summer success that’s now drawing big numbers on Monday nights. The reality skein has stirred up controversy — and huge ratings — for its often extreme contestant challenges.

The Peacock hasn’t yet decided whether to air the new episodes this summer or save them for the 2002-03 season.

NBC Entertainment prexy Jeff Zucker said “Fear Factor” has “exceeded our expectations” since its return to the NBC lineup earlier this month.

“It’s done everything we could have hoped for and more,” he said. “It’s made Monday nights incredibly stronger, and it’s only going to continue to grow.”

The most recent episode of “Fear Factor” drew 13.8 million viewers at 8 p.m. Monday, winning its timeslot. Among adults 18-49, the skein dominated the hour with a 6.5 rating/16 share.

NBC will air a special Playboy-themed “Fear” this weekend opposite Fox’s Super Bowl halftime show. An Oscar-night “Fear” spec is also a possibility.

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