FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS - NBC Tuesdays
Six episodes in, Friday Night Lights is a football drama with Texas-sized ambition but Rhode Island-sized ratings that have stabilized to a 2.5 adults 18 to 49 rating. This was a disappointment not only to NBC but to the TV critics who hailed it as one of the year’s best. Despite the lukewarm ratings, the network is still giving the show a chance.
And it’s a shame for viewers to sit on the bench as this show has everything it takes to succeed:a stellar script, a good cast (led by a nice, nuanced performance by Kyle Chandler) a pricey romotional push back in early fall, glowing reviews—and, as of late October, an order of nine new scripts.
So, why has this program fumbled?Like football itself, the show’s premise is simple, but the execution complex: The plotrevolves around the Panthers, the high school football team in the fictional town of Dillon who are favo
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red to win the state football championship. Part of the show’s current ratings problem is that the young males who flocked to the 2004 big-screen version aren’t regular viewers of the small screen in primetime. And women – who often are 60%+ of the available audience, may have decided that after Saturday Night Football on ABC, Sunday Night Football on NBC and Monday Night Football on ESPN they could take a pass on Friday Night Lights on a Tuesday.
Another part of the problem is the very reason it scores in the first place:The show shines brightly on small-town culture and the obsessive role of sports in society. But this tension on the gridiron needs to be intercepted by a few non-football story lines–think more love interests, girl gossip and family drama– because all blood, sweat and football is alienating the very demographic this show so desperately needs to emerge victorious.
John Rash is Sr. Vice President, Director of Media Negotiations for Campbell Mithun and is the author of the RashReport (rashreport.com). He also analyzes media for CBS affiliate WCCO-AM in Minneapolis and teaches at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota.