NBC: 'Heroes' will continue next season

Network will order 18-20 episodes next season

NBC plans to bring back "Heroes" for another season, said entertainment president Angela Bromstad.

The action-drama's ratings decline has caused some media reports to speculate as to whether the show will return next fall. As part of Hollywood Reporter's annual Q&As with the five broadcast network chiefs, Bromstad was asked if "Heroes" could be considered "on the bubble" for a renewal.

"No," she said, and added that the network plans to order 18-20 episodes of the show for next season.

That's fewer hours than "Heroes" first or current third season (which each had orders of at least 23 episodes), with season two having been cut short due to the writers strike.

For all its headline-making audience erosion, "Heroes" is still tied with NBC's "The Office" as the network's top-rated series among adults 18-49 this season.

Also being factored: NBC's pilot project "Day One," about a group of survivors in the wake of a catastrophic global event. If the serialized "Day One" goes to series, having an established sci-fi drama like "Heroes" could help the new show in a few ways, including possibly airing as part of the same Monday night block.

"Day One' is a big event and we're looking at that to come into the 'Heroes' spot," Bromstad said. "It's right now being looked at as a 13-episode run -- something people could commit to and we could make a big splash with."

If "Day One" does launch in the "Heroes" time period, "One" would get the advantage of its strong sci-fi-established slot for a number of weeks. With a slightly shorter episode order, "Heroes" can then continue its usual pattern of airing with few breaks by virtue of debuting later in the season. A second potential home for "Day One" is on Sundays, she said, where quasi-futuristic "Kings" will premiere March 15.

Another point in "Heroes" favor is the show performs well internationally. Bromstad said she experienced the drama's global popularity first-hand in her previous NBC post, heading the network's international efforts based in London.

"Every single place you go has heard about 'Heroes' -- whether you're in China or Japan or Russia," she said. "And to me, that is global content."

The network has privately discussed setting a series end date for "Heroes," which would followed the creative model used with critical success by ABC's "Lost," Sci Fi's "Battlestar Galactica" and FX's "The Shield." But even if NBC ever made such a move, Bromstad said, they wouldn't want to make next season the conclusion.

"Heroes" fans aren't entirely in the clear yet: a renewal isn't a deal until it's a deal. If the show took a sudden dire ratings turn, the network still has time to reevaluate this strategy. But barring something dramatic happening, NBC is not deterred by the current ratings and will bring back "Heroes" for a fourth round.

For the full Q&A with Bromstad, and with the entertainment chiefs for ABC, CBS, Fox and the CW, see Friday's The Hollywood Reporter.
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