8:48pm PT by Lesley Goldberg, Kate Stanhope
'Undateable' Renewed for All-Live Third Season
NBC is betting big on the cast of Undateable.
Late Friday the network handed out a third-season renewal for sophomore comedy Undateable — with all episodes set to air live.
Comedy has been an issue of the broadcast networks, NBC in particular, for some time. And with Parks and Recreation off the air and About a Boy canceled after its sophomore season, Undateable was the only returning sitcom with a chance of a renewal. An episode count for the new season has yet to be determined. Also unclear is whether the series will produce live episodes for both East and West Coast broadcasts, as it did with its recent May 5 installment.
The multicamera comedy has been a solid performer after last summer's solid sampling, averaging a 1.7 rating in the key demo, which earned it a move to midseason. It also boasts the pedigree of executive producer Bill Lawrence. The sitcom showrunner brought the show to Warner Bros. Television under his Doozer Productions shingle, with the veteran producer also scoring a series pickup for CBS' Rush Hour take. With the renewal, Undateable becomes NBC's longest-running scripted comedy currently on the air.
The decision to go all live comes after Undateable's first live show, which aired May 5 and produced separate telecasts for the East and West Coasts, drew steady but not spectacular ratings for the sophomore multicam comedy. The outing, which featured an impressive array of celebrity guests including Zach Braff and Ed Sheeran, ticked up one-tenth in the adults 18-49 demo from the week prior to a 1.3.
Live scripted comedy has been a priority for NBC under Bob Greenblatt, who in September partnered with Universal Television-based Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner's Hazy Mills banner (Grimm, Hollywood Game Night and new comedy Crowded) for Hospitality. The plan for that comedy, which did not move forward this season, was to see the multicamera comedy air live every week with live commercials during the breaks.
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Live programming — including awards shows and sports — has been increasingly valuable as broadcast networks look to DVR-proof programming amid an increasingly competitive landscape. NBC, which houses veteran Saturday Night Live, found ratings gold in its live broadcast of The Sound of Music, with its Peter Pan follow-up falling short. The network is looking to bounce back this December by combining two of TV's biggest trends — live programming and diverse casts — with its staging of The Wiz. (Fox, for its part, is prepping a live version of Grease.) Live events, including sports and awards shows, have become indispensable in the DVR era, as networks look to draw eyeballs in an increasingly competitive landscape. Hospitality also would mark a return to the beginning of television, when sitcoms were broadcast live.
Working in Undateable's favor is its cast of stand-up comedians including Chris D'Elia, Brent Morin and Ron Funches, among others. NBC previously promoted the launch of the series with a stand-up comedy tour featuring the cast.
Keep up with all the renewals, cancellations and new-series orders with THR's handy Scorecard.