NBC to Launch 52-Week Prime-Time Slate

NEW YORK Hoping to get a jump on the competition by giving the ad community more of a chance to consider its initiatives, NBC has unveiled its prime-time programming schedules through the summer of 2009 to media buyers at a special presentation on Wednesday.

The network will offer three new dramas this fall — My Own Worst Enemy starring Christian Slater; a remake of the 1980s NBC series Knight Rider; and Crusoe, based on the classic Robinson Crusoe — and one new sitcom, Kath & Kim, based on the Australian hit, which will star Molly Shannon and Selma Blair.

NBC will also bring back it’s highest-rated new drama from this past fall, Chuck, along with midseason drama Lipstick Jungle and ratings-challenged drama Life, the latter with some cast changes. Gone is the remake of Bionic Woman.

ER returns this fall for its final season, and Noah Wylie will reprise his role on the show. NBC will also air four special presidential election editions of Saturday Night Live in prime time. NBC’s hit drama Heroes will return Sept. 15 as part of a three-hour premiere event.

For midseason (winter and spring) 2009, NBC will premiere drama The Philanthropist and a spin-off of sitcom The Office, which will debut leading out of NBC’s telecast of Super Bowl XLIII in early February. The network will also screen new drama series Kings and Merlin. Critically acclaimed but ratings-challenged Friday Night Lights will also return.

According to Ben Silverman, co-chairman, NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios, the network will air shows that are considered family-oriented at 8 p.m. each night and more adult-oriented dramas at 10 p.m.

NBC also announced a deal with DirecTV under which DirecTV will first show episodes of Friday Night Lights beginning Oct. 1, and NBC will begin airing those same episodes in February 2009.

Silverman said he did not think the deal would negatively impact viewing of the show on NBC. He said since NBC owns the program, any additional viewership on DirecTV could help DVD sales of past seasons and could help the show on the backend. He also believes the showing on DirecTV could drive audiences to NBC when it begins airing there.

Announcing the schedule so far in advance will enable advertisers to “activate their marketing plans on NBC’s entertainment platform,” he said.