Season 5 served as the end for Friday Night Lights, and here’s why the sports drama came to a conclusion after a rocky broadcast run on NBC.
Friday Night Lights concluded in 2011, and here’s why NBC pulled the plug on the sports drama after five seasons. Developed by Peter Berg, the series premiered in October 2006 with the hopes of grabbing mass attention to football lovers. Based on H.G. “Buzz” Bissinger’s 1990 non-fiction novel Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream, as well as the 2004 film inspired by the book, Friday Night Lights garnered critical acclaim, prestigious awards, and a loyal fanbase. So why did NBC decide to cancel the drama?
Whereas the book and movie focused on the Permian Panthers’ 1988 football season in Odessa, Texas, Friday Night Lights centered on a high school football team in the fictional town of Dillon. Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) moved to the small-knit Texas town to coach the Dillon High Panthers. He also brought along his wife Tami Taylor (Connie Britton), a school faculty member, and their teenage daughter. During the first game of the season, the team suffered a huge loss when the Panthers quarterback suffered a severe injury, leaving him paralyzed. Not only did the Taylor family have to deal with the expectations, but the student-athletes were also forced to deal with a community where football meant everything.
Friday Night Lights season 1 didn’t break viewership records but it convinced NBC to greenlight a second installment. What was originally supposed to be a 19-episode follow-up season was shortened to 15 episodes due to the WGA Writer’s Strike. Despite the positive reception, the series was underwhelming in terms of viewership, threatening cancellation as early as season 2. Ratings remained an issue for the duration of the series, as Friday Night Lights could never expand outside its niche. Despite the ratings worry, the series managed to last a total of five seasons, and the loyal fans had a lot to do with that.
Friday Night Lights Fans Greatly Helped To Extend The Series
When news broke that Friday Night Lights was in danger of being cancelled after season 2, the fandom came together for a number of renewal campaigns. NBC noticed the efforts of the vocal viewers, helping lead to the decision to give the drama new life. Rather than air exclusively on NBC, the network made a deal with DirecTV to co-finance another season of Friday Night Lights. New episodes aired on DirecTV’s 101 Network before releasing on NBC a few months later. Season 3 was deemed somewhat of a success, resulting in a two-season renewal before officially coming to an end in 2011 because of a continued downward trend in ratings.
Following the initial run, Friday Night Lights tried to find resurgence through syndication. Viewership didn’t do well on cable networks but it was a different case with streaming services. The series was deemed a better fit for binge format, which is how the series is still finding new fans. There was talk of a sequel movie after Friday Night Lights concluded, but those plans have since been dropped. It was difficult enough for the TV series to keep standing, and those involved probably don’t want to tarnish the story’s legacy.