[01/30/04 - 12:00 AM]
Early Renewals Come for NBC's 'Dreams,' 'Vegas'; Showtime's 'Word'
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- NBC is rallying behind its freshman drama "Las Vegas" and its returning sophomore "American Dreams," as the network announced early 2004-05 season renewals for both series today.

"These are two shows that have performed well for us this season and two shows we believe in, so there was no reason to wait," NBC Entertainment president Jeff Zucker said in a statement. The renewals were also given early so both show's producers will have extra time to prepare for next season as NBC is expected to launch its fall 2004 schedule early, with the majority its schedule rolling out in early August to take advantage of the promo push from its Summer Olympics coverage.

"Vegas," which airs Mondays at 9:00/8:00c, has averaged 12.3 million viewers and a 4.6 rating/11 share among adults 18-49 so far this season. More importantly, "Vegas'" viewership has actually grown over the course of its run as its January 12 broadcast (13.9 million viewers) was its most-watched episode to date. As for "Dreams," the sophomore drama has averaged 8.6 million viewers and a 3.2/8 in adults 18-49 this season. While down considerably from last season (24% in year-to-year comparisons), NBC executives say the series remains competitive among several key demographics. NBC had previously trimmed the show's second season from 22 installments to 18 (read the story) so the show's third season renewal comes as a slight surprise.

"Vegas" and "Dreams" join the previously renewed "ER," "Fear Factor," "Law & Order," "The West Wing" and "Will & Grace" for the 2004-05 season. Both shows have been given full 22-episode pick-ups.

Meanwhile in other early pick-up news, Showtime has renewed its freshman drama "The L Word" despite premiering only 11 days ago. Production will begin on a new batch of 13 episodes in June for an early 2005 launch. "With its provocative storytelling, rich character development, amazing cast and universal appeal, the decision to renew 'Word' was a no-brainer," the network's topper Robert Greenblatt said in a statement.

936,000 viewers tuned into the show's two-hour premiere on January 18, quadrupling the channel's primetime average rating. Such an early pick-up isn't without precedent however as Greenblatt's own series "Six Feet Under" was renewed for a second season by HBO before it even premiered.

  [january 2004]  

· ER (NBC)

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