NBC is shuffling its schedule some at midseason, getting the critically acclaimed but ratings-challenged "Friday Night Lights" out of the path of FOX's "American Idol" steamroller.
That move also created a few other changes, as does the disappearance of "Sunday Night Football" shortly after the new year. The network will institute a two-hour reality block early on Sundays, anchored by "The Apprentice," and bring back "Crossing Jordan" to one of its old timeslots to close out the night.
"It's already been a terrific fall for NBC, our rebuild is in motion and we're looking to maintain that momentum through the spring," says Kevin Reilly, president of NBC Entertainment. "Although the second half of the season will get tougher, we think the quality of our midseason series will continue to fuel NBC's year-to-year story of ratings growth."
NBC is drawing about 940,000 more viewers per week this season than it did last year, and its adults 18-49 rating is up by half a point. A good portion of that is thanks to "Sunday Night Football," but shows like "Heroes" and "Deal or No Deal" have helped as well.
The midseason schedule keeps the current Monday, Thursday and Friday lineups intact, with game show "1 vs. 100" becoming a permanent resident on Friday. "Friday Night Lights" slides from Tuesday to 8 p.m. ET Wednesdays, away from the "Idol" juggernaut and into a timeslot with no dominant show. Newsmagazine "Dateline" will take the bullet on Tuesdays.
On Sundays, NBC will debut its be-on-Broadway series "Grease: You're the One That We Want" at 8 p.m. Jan. 7. It will be followed by "The Apprentice: Los Angeles," with both shows getting 90-minute episodes in their first two weeks. "Crossing Jordan" takes over the 10 p.m. slot on Jan. 21.
NBC had originally slated a second season of its summertime hit "America's Got Talent" for Sundays in January but has apparently decided to hold off.
Also left out of the mix for now are four new series: the dramas "Raines" and "The Black Donnellys" and comedies "Andy Barker, P.I." and "The Singles Table." NBC says the two dramas will debut sometime in the spring; there's no word on the comedies yet.
Here are the changes to NBC's schedule for midseason, with starting dates in parentheses:
8 p.m. "Dateline NBC" (Dec. 26)
8 p.m. "Friday Night Lights" (Jan. 10; new timeslot)
9 p.m. "Deal or No Deal" (Jan. 3; new timeslot)
7 p.m. "Dateline NBC" (Feb. 11)
8 p.m. "Grease: You're the One That We Want" (Jan. 7; airs from 8-9:30 p.m. for first two weeks)
9 p.m. "The Apprentice: Los Angeles" (Jan. 7; airs from 9:30-11 p.m. for first two weeks)
10 p.m. "Crossing Jordan" (Jan. 21)