Despite being a critics favorite, the debut season of NBC’s Friday Night Lights failed to secure a large enough viewership, consistently placing below 50 in the Nielsens chart.  Still, the network decided to renew it for a second season, and many industry veterans were confident that the series would grab a number of major Emmy nominations this year.  However, when the list was announced last month, the series was snubbed in all major categories, and only received nods for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series and Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series.

The show’s Emmy scorecard proves discouraging, especially since earning major nominations could have helped boost the show’s popularity.  Nevertheless, Friday Night Lights executives are trying their best to look forward.

“Obviously, it was a disappointment,” Erin Gough Wehrenberg, NBC’s executive vice president of current series, said of the Friday Night Lights‘ Emmy tally.  “It’s a challenge for any first-year show to get a nomination.  But it certainly doesn’t change our perception of the show.”

Although scoring major Emmy nominations following a difficult first season does not always mean higher viewership- as evidenced by FOX’s low-rated but Emmy award-winning comedy series, Arrested Development– most producers aim to take after the 1980s series Hill Street Blues.  The police drama struggled in the beginning, but after capturing several Emmy awards, quickly became a cultural sensation.  The show lasted for seven seasons.

The small but loyal fan base of Friday Night Lights is hoping the strong cast and well-developed characters will be enough to save the series, but there are some who remain doubtful, especially with the lingering perception that it is a show for sports fanatics.

According to John Rash, senior vice president at ad firm Campbell Mithun, the network’s problem is one primarily of marketing.

“The Emmys got it wrong but there are no do-overs, and NBC has got to look for another marketing tool to energize the deserving fan base for this show,” he said.  “It’s got one more year to catch on, at most.”

The network, in turn, acknowledges the problem and admits that viewers may have gotten the wrong idea about Friday Night Lights.  “We’re altering the marketing message a little bit and selling elements of the show people may not have known were there,” Wehrenberg said.  “We’ll work hard to get the message out that the show is not entirely about football.”

-Lisa Claustro, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
Source: LA Times


Staff Columnist, BuddyTV