NBC Keeps ‘Law & Order’ in the Family

May 13, 2007  •  Post A Comment

After several weeks of negotiations with producers, NBC Universal has brokered a last-minute deal with producer Dick Wolf to keep all three “Law & Order” series on the air and within the NBC family.
The original “Law,” dubbed the flagship, will return for an 18th season, making it the longest-running crime drama in television history and second only to the 20-year “Gunsmoke” series as the longest-running drama.
“Law & Order: Criminal Intent” will move to NBC Universal-owned USA Network for its seventh season, but will also air repeats on NBC.
As previously announced, the best-rated of the trio, “Law & Order: SVU,” will receive a full-season order and return to NBC this fall.
“With this innovative programming move, we have significantly strengthened the already powerful USA network, given NBC maximum flexibility, and in the process have changed the paradigm of prime-time television,” Jeff Zucker, NBC Universal’s president and CEO said in a statement. “By changing the traditional way programs are rolled out, we have reinforced NBC Universal’s forward-thinking approach to new programming strategies and our willingness to embrace bold thinking.”
The original “Law & Order” had been a significant ratings driver for NBC until recent years, when the police procedural began to decline in the Nielsens. This season, the flagship has averaged a 2.7 rating among adults 18 to 49, partly due to its Friday-night time slot. Despite having a strong time slot, Tuesdays at 9 p.m., “Intent” has averaged about the same with a 2.8. “SVU,” however, has remained strong, winning its Tuesdays at 10 p.m. time period with a 4.2 rating.
As with many NBC Universal renewals this season, the deal partly hinged on series budget cuts, sources said, particularly for the flagship.
“This is a win-win for everybody,” Mr. Wolf said. I am very grateful that ‘Law & Order’ is coming back for its 18th season on NBC … we are now one year closer to my ultimate dream — to become the longest running drama in the history of television. ‘SVU’ redefined the network/cable broadcast model when it premiered in 1999, by creating a repurposed window on basic cable for a network show. Now ‘Criminal Intent’ adds a new dimension to that model, with a groundbreaking licensing of a repurpose window in reverse.”
NBC will present its fall schedule to advertisers Monday at its annual upfront presentation in New York.

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