ESPN Classic Turns on ‘Friday Night Lights’

by | July 11, 2011 at 12:29 PM | Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights (NBC)

Friday Night Lights (NBC)

LOS ANGELES (TheWrap) – “Friday Night Lights” may be wrapping up its critically acclaimed run on NBC and DirecTV on July 12, but the show about Texas football will live on courtesy of ESPN.

ESPN will air the entire series with episodes set to premiere on the same day the show goes off the air. Episodes one and two from season 1 will air back-to-back in primetime on ESPN at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. EDT.

The ESPN family will flood the zone with “Friday Night Lights” coverage, offering up a season 1 marathon on July 14 and 15 on ESPN Classic. Though the show will premiere on ESPN, sister network ESPN Classic and will become the series’ home starting on July 21. It will air every Thursday night at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. EDT.

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ESPN Classic runs mostly sports movies, documentaries and reruns of historic games and events.

“We were attracted to it because the quality of the show is so strong and it has such a passionate and loyal following,” Connor Schell, vice president and executive producer, ESPN Films and ESPN Classic, told TheWrap. “It’s just incredible long-form storytelling in and around sports.”

To help drum up enthusiasm for the show’s new home, sports columnist Bill Simmons’ ESPN-owned site, Grantland.com, will publish an oral history of the series told through the words of the entire cast and crew.

“Lights,” a Peabody- and Emmy-winning series, was a big hit with critics but struggled in the ratings throughout its run. It managed to avoid cancellation after NBC brass struck a deal with DirecTV in 2008, in which the subscription satellite company got rights to broadcast the show first, in exchange for subsidizing its production costs.

“Friday Night Lights” is based on Buzz Bissinger’s best-selling book and the 2004 film of the same name.

“Buzz Bissinger’s book is one of the seminal sports books written in the last several decades,” Schell told TheWrap. “It’s an incredible book about American society told through football.”

In addition to ESPN Classic, the Longhorn Network, the ESPN owned and operated network dedicated to Texas athletics, will also air the entire five seasons of “Friday Night Lights” after it launches in August.

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