Broadcast TV's biggest new hit show will be airing on NBC through at least the 2018-19 season.
NBC announced a two-season renewal for its breakout family drama This Is Us today at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif. The network shared the news with the show's cast and producers just minutes before they met with reporters.
"The show means everything to us," said NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke.
The renewal covers "no less than 36 episodes," with "at least" 18 episodes per season (the Season 1 episode count), said Salke. She noted that 36 is a significant number—it's the age the three siblings in the show turned in the pilot.
This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman told Adweek last fall that he had pushed for a shorter season because he knew the series wouldn't be able to sustain the standard 22-episode order for broadcast dramas.
"[The show is] the breakout hit of the fall, as well as the No. 1 new show of the season," said Salke.
The series was an instant hit, drawing 10 million viewers on its first night, thanks to an ambitious marketing campaign that preserved the pilot's big twist. This Is Us is averaging a 2.6 rating in the 18-49 demo this season, a full ratings point higher than any of NBC's other scripted series. In live-plus-7 ratings, that number jumps to a 4.6.
Fogelman isn't worried about running out of story in the next two years. There are a lot of surprises and twists to come. "We have a plan," he said. "We know where this series is going and how we're going to keep people on their toes."
The creator, who wrote a full family history that he shared with the cast, isn't making things up on the fly. "I know where the show goes," Fogelman said. "I have a number of seasons in my brain, and we'll see as we get there." He added that given "the nature of the timeline, we'll never run out of stories."
The show has helped lead NBC to its most-watched fall season in 10 years. The network is averaging a 2.7 demo rating this season and has what NBC claims is the biggest lead for any network 17 weeks into a season. It's ahead of Fox (2.0) by 35 percent. CBS is in third with 1.9, and ABC has 1.7.
Last week, execs from Fox, which produces the show, revealed that they considered This Is Us for their own network, but handed it to NBC when they realized the show was a better fit for that network.
The Season 1 finale of This Is Us airs March 7.