'Friday Night Lights' on a winning streak

NBC football drama down in ratings, but beating its rivals

It isn't football season for a few months still, but NBC's "Friday Night Lights" is making a little progress down the field this summer in its fourth season.

The critics' favorite, which follows a coach and teenagers in a Texas football town, was never able to translate its Peabody and Emmy awards to ratings success. It's down from its high point -- never very high, to be sure -- during the second season before it moved to originals on DirecTV that were later repeated on NBC. Yet with the fall TV season over and CBS' "The Ghost Whisperer" (itself canceled) out of originals, "Friday Night Lights" is putting together a quiet string of modest victories at 8 p.m. Fridays even as it has diminished ratings.

The latest victory was last Friday when "Lights" tied for first place at 8 p.m. in adults 18-49 with 3.6 million viewers and a 1.1 rating/5 share in the demo, according to preliminary data released by Nielsen Media Research. It is tied with a repeat of ABC's "Wife Swap." NBC said that was the fifth consecutive week that "Lights" has been No. 1 or tied. This week it also won its time period in adults 18-34 and adult males. That's still down from its season-to-date averages as well as previous seasons' performances.

The show has had an easier time in what is its eighth episode this season, since "Ghost Whisperer" had easily beaten it when it was still on earlier in the season. Now the competition is easier, with CBS going with repeats of "Medium" (as a precursor to having originals there in the fall) plus repeats of ABC's "Wife Swap" and Fox's "Bones."

Season-to-date, "Friday Night Lights" on NBC is averaging 4.1 million viewers and a 1.3/5 in the demo, thanks to a boost from DVR use. That's down from its peak, the 2007-08 season, when it averaged 6.2 million viewers and a 2.2/6 in adults 18-49.
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