'Friday Night Lights' Season 3 Kicks Off Tonight on DirecTV
'Friday Night Lights' Season 3 Kicks Off Tonight on DirecTV
One of the best shows on television is returning tonight, but people who don't have the DirecTV satellite service won't be able to watch it.  Friday Night Lights, the critically beloved, criminally low-rated football drama, kicks off its third season at 9pm on The 101 channel, which is only available to DirecTV subscribers.  The first two seasons of the series aired exclusively on NBC, but to keep the show alive and help alleviate costs, the network made a deal with the satellite provider that allows them to air season 3 months before it airs on network television.

Friday Night Lights executive producer Jason Katims recently spoke to the Los Angeles Times about the new season, and he's hoping that fans without the satellite service will resist downloading the show illegally.  "Obviously, my first choice, if at all possible, is for people to get DirecTV to see the show sooner rather than later," Katims said.  "If that's not possible, I really do think it's worth the wait."

The deal that helped keep Friday Night Lights alive comes with a lot of unanswered questions.  Will fans who don't have DirecTV bother waiting until NBC airs the episodes in early 2009, or will they simply download them illegally?  Will DirecTV subscribers who get an early, commercial-free look at the season tune in to see it again on NBC?  Katims told the Los Angeles Times that it's possible some episodes will contain new content when aired on NBC, which may entice satellite customers to watch the season again.

It's unknown how this unprecedented move will affect the ratings of the series, but Katims hopes to convince viewers to tune into the show on NBC even if they're spoiled or have already seen the episodes.  "The true joy of the show is experiencing watching it, whether you know some of the things that are going to happen," he said.  "For the future of the show, it's just as important for it to succeed on NBC as it is for it to succeed on DirecTV."

The third season of Friday Night Lights picks up nine months after the season 2 finale.  The first episode finds Tami (Connie Britton) promoted from guidance counselor to principal of Dillon High School, which forces her to deal with the district's budgetary crisis.  The school doesn't have money for chalk or new textbooks, but the Dillon Panthers have raised a bundle of cash that they plan to spend on a new scoreboard.  Tami's new position of power will cause conflict at home with Eric (Kyle Chandler), who's role as the coach of the Panthers puts him at odds with his wife.

It's impossible to say what the future holds for Friday Night Lights, and it'll be hard to judge the success of the DirecTV deal until after season 3 airs on NBC in 2009.  Those who subscribe to the satellite provider can check out the premiere tonight at 9pm on The 101.  Everyone else will just have to wait for the Panthers to return to network television.

- Don Williams, BuddyTV Staff Writer
Source: Los Angeles Times
(Image courtesy of NBC)

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