10:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'This Is Us' Plots Endgame With Three-Season Renewal at NBC
NBC has solidified the future for broadcast television's No. 1 drama in the key adults 18-49 demo.
The network, in a deal with Disney-owned 20th Century Fox Television, has renewed This Is Us for three additional seasons. The pickup takes the Dan Fogelman-created drama through its sixth — and, sources say, what is likely to be its final — season. Insiders stress that Fogelman sees the series ending with season six, while NBC remains optimistic that its mega-hit could live on beyond that. The renewal was announced Sunday morning alongside NBC's fall 2019-20 schedule.
"In a television landscape with nearly 500 original scripted series, there are very few, if any, that have the critical and cultural impact of This Is Us, and we couldn’t be more proud to bring fans three more seasons of a show that so well represents the NBC brand,” said NBC Entertainment scripted presidents Lisa Katz and Tracey Pakosta. "A huge thank you and congratulations to our executive producers, cast and crew, who reach new heights every week with the show’s inventive and compelling storytelling.”
This marks the second multiple-season renewal for This Is Us, which was picked up for its second and third cycles way back during its breakout freshman run, when the series was still owned by Fox. The decision to likely end the series with season six (with each season consisting of its standard 18 episodes) comes as little surprise. Fogelman, who serves as co-showrunner alongside Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, told The Hollywood Reporter ahead of the season three finale that he sees the series at its "midpoint."
"We're roughly in the middle of where the television series is going to go," said Fogelman, who is fresh off of signing a massive five-year, nine-figure overall deal with 20th TV that brings him back into the Disney fold he left before launching the family drama. "We never set out to make a television series that was going to last 18 seasons, so we have a very direct plan. I have script pages I have written and I'm writing that really are deep, deep, deep into the future. We have a plan for what we're going to do, and I know what the plan is."
Asked specifically if these were the final seasons of This Is Us, NBC Entertainment co-president Paul Telegdy said that was an open question for right now. "Dan is a maestro and has a plan for this show," Telegdy told reporters Sunday during NBC's pre-upfronts press call.
In its third season, This Is Us remains a rare broadcast network awards season player and ratings powerhouse. With seven days of delayed viewing, its 3.9 in the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic and 13.9 million total viewers are first and third on broadcast (excluding the NFL) for the season, respectively.
With the renewal, This Is Us will likely finish up with 108 total episodes — beyond the threshold typically needed to secure a lucrative off-network syndication deal and triggering a cash infusion for Fogelman and Disney, which now owns the series after closing its $71.3 billion Fox deal. That creates yet another revenue stream after Hulu in 2017 acquired SVOD rights to This Is Us in what sources at the time said was a record-breaking per-episode fee. Hulu and NBC shared co-exclusive rights to the series starring Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore and Sterling K. Brown.
In an era of fragmented viewership and streaming, it's increasingly rare for scripted series to last as costs like licensing fees and cast salaries continue to escalate. The This Is Us stars, for example, secured sizable pay raises ahead of season three. Ventimiglia (Jack), Moore (Rebecca), Brown (Randall), Chrissy Metz (Kate) and Justin Hartley (Kevin) saw their per-episode salary jump to $250,000, once their respective signing bonuses are factored in, according to sources. Ventimiglia, for example, made $115,000 per episode, while Hartley earned $75,000 and Metz, who famously had 81 cents in her bank account when she booked This Is Us, earned $40,000. The stars in season three now earn $4.5 million per season.
For his part, Fogelman now finds himself back where he started before This Is Us as he departed ABC Studios for a four-year, eight-figure payday (before such pacts became the new normal). Fogelman, who drew interest from multiple other outlets — including billion-dollar spender Amazon — also counts Fox's Pitch and ABC's The Neighbors and Galavant among his credits. On the feature side, his credits include Life Itself, Cars, Tangled and Crazy Stupid Love. WME negotiated the renewal, which has been in the works for months (ahead of the battle between agencies and the Writer's Guild).
NBC, meanwhile, continues to firm up its 2019-2020 broadcast schedule with This Is Us joining previously renewed dramas The Blacklist, Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, Chicago PD, Law & Order: SVU and New Amsterdam as well as comedies The Good Place, Superstore and Will and Grace.
Keep track of all the renewals, cancellations and new-show orders with THR's scorecards for ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and The CW and with all the latest pilot pickups and passes with our handy guide. For complete coverage, bookmark THR.com/upfronts.