It's officially official!
Friday Night Lights fans can rejoice: NBC has ordered two more seasons of the critically lauded but ratings-challenged drama series.
The network and DirecTV have finalized a deal for a 26-episode order (two seasons of 13 episodes each) to the UMS/Imagine TV-produced series about a Texas high school football team.
Under the pact, "FNL" will continue to premiere on DirecTV with a second window on NBC.
Faced with the prospect of canceling the series because of its soft ratings, NBC first struck a pact with DirecTV last year to share the cost of the show's current third season, which did well for the satcaster in the fourth quarter.
Helping make the pickup economically viable is the fact that "FNL" is very efficiently produced in Austin, Texas, where the show also enjoys tax incentives. To keep costs even lower, the two upcoming seasons may be filmed back-to-back. Season 4 will air next season, while Season 5 will run the following season.
Additionally, the two-season pickup for "FNL" makes the show syndicatable as it brings its episode count to 77.
"FNL" executive producer Jason Katims has hot pilot "Parenthood," starring Peter Krause, Maura Tierney and Craig T. Nelson, in contention at NBC. If it gets picked up to series, he is slated to oversee both "Parenthood," an update of the 1980s movie, and "FNL," which, coincidentally, also is based on a feature.
Making things easier is that both "Parenthood" and "FNL" are produced by the same companies, UMS and Imagine.
Most "FNL" cast members, including stars Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, are set to return.
Not coming back as regular is Minka Kelly, whose character has graduated. She stars on the CW pilot "Body Politic" and is expected to return to "FNL" for an arc next season.
"FNL" was created by Peter Berg, the filmmaker behind the 2004 feature. He is exec producing the series with Katims, Brian Grazer, David Nevins and Sarah Aubrey.