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"Law & Order" will return to the NBC network for an unprecedented 18th season. It joins the previously announced "Law & Order: SVU" on the network's prime time schedule. "Law & Order" is the longest running crime drama in television history, and second only to the longest running drama series "Gunsmoke," which ran for 20 years, from 1955 to 1975.
In a groundbreaking move, the acclaimed drama "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" will move from NBC to USA, the top-rated basic cable network, which is owned by NBC Universal. "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" will return for its seventh season with its premiere runs on USA, followed by an encore play on NBC. USA is the #1 basic cable network, among households, total viewers, and all key demos. For the last six seasons, "Criminal Intent" has run first on NBC and then had its second window on USA. Beginning next year, that scenario flips.
"With this innovative programming move, we have significantly strengthened the already powerful USA network, given NBC maximum flexibility, and in the process have changed the paradigm of prime time television," said Jeff Zucker, NBC Universal's President and Chief Executive Officer. "By changing the traditional way programs are rolled out, we have reinforced NBC Universal's forward thinking approach to new programming strategies and our willingness to embrace bold thinking. In the end, it is all about our viewers. And this will allow our viewers continuing access to the finest programming across the premier networks of NBC Universal." Zucker added, "We are thrilled to continue our successful business relationship with Dick Wolf and his team."
Creator/Executive Producer Dick Wolf said, "I am thrilled and delighted that Wolf Films and NBC Universal will continue the longest running and most successful partnership in television. This is a win-win for everybody. With all three Law & Orders on the air, formats of 'SVU' and 'CI' on in Russia and France, and discussions ongoing in other territories, this new deal encourages and enhances our mutual desire for our companies to become a major force in global television. This is the tip of the sphere of a new media paradigm."
He added, "I am very grateful that 'Law & Order' is coming back for its 18th season on NBC. Creatively, the show is still firing on all cylinders and I have no doubt that the show's quality can and will continue for years to come. We are scheduled to celebrate our 400th episode next season, which is a milestone that is absolutely staggering. And we are now one year closer to my ultimate dream – to become the longest running drama in the history of television, beating Gunsmoke." Wolf continued, "SVU redefined the network/cable broadcast model when it premiered in 1999, by creating a repurposed window on basic cable for a network show. Now Criminal Intent adds a new dimension to that model, with a groundbreaking licensing of a repurpose window in reverse, to the network. CI enjoyed a creative resurgence last season and I expect the new USA/NBC dual broadcast window will bring new life to the show in its seventh year."
"'Law and Order' has remained one of NBC's defining series and dependable performers for its entire, formidable 17 year run." said Kevin Reilly, President, NBC Entertainment, "We're so pleased that Dick Wolf and his talented team of producers will continue this legacy of quality storytelling on NBC."
"'Law and Order: Criminal Intent' is perfect for USA — smart, character-driven programming that's already a proven hit with our viewers," said Bonnie Hammer, president of USA Network and SCI FI Channel. "It's also a blockbuster procedural, a terrific complement to the award-winning 'Monk' and last year's top-rated new show, 'Psych'. Combined with the powerhouse WWE and the rest of the network's dynamic slate, it ensures that USA will continue to dominate the cable landscape and remain #1."
The "Law & Order" brand accounts for the #1, 2 and 3 off-network primetime series on basic cable through the first four months of 2007 in adults 25-54, with "Criminal Intent" on USA (1.020 million adults 25-54), "SVU" on USA (945,000 adults 25-54) and "Law & Order" on TNT (864,000 adults 25-54).
More than 100 million viewers watch the "Law & Order" dramas on cable or broadcast each month, making it television's most-watched drama franchise.
"Law & Order" runs in syndication on TNT. "Law & Order: SVU" is also seen in national syndication on USA and on weekends on local broadcast stations. Starting this fall, "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" will air on local broadcast stations on a Monday through Friday basis, as well as continuing to air on USA and Bravo.
The "Law & Order" franchise is also seen in hundreds of territories around the world and has continued its expansion overseas with new format deals for "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (France and Russia) and "Law & Order: SVU" (Russia).
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"Law & Order" is the most successful brand in primetime television. The realistic program looks at crime and justice from a dual perspective. Some cases may be simple, but most are multi-faceted. The investigations are challenging, prosecutions are complicated, and decisions about legal procedures and plea-bargaining are vexing.
Fridays at 10 p.m. (ET), the original "Law & Order" has averaged a 2.7 rating, 8 share in adults 18-49 and 9.0 million viewers overall. "Law & Order" has improved the time period versus NBC's year-ago 18-49 average by 12 percent and is Friday's most upscale series on any network (in concentration of adults 18-49 living in homes with $100,000-plus incomes).
"Law & Order: SVU" chronicles the life and crimes of the Special Victims Unit of the New York Police Department, the elite squad of detectives who investigate sexually based crimes.
Tuesdays at 10 p.m. (ET), "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" is #1 in the time period in every key ratings category and an original "SVU" hasn't lost the slot in adults 18-49 to regular competition in more than two years. For the season, "SVU" has delivered a 4.2 rating, 11 share in adults 18-49 and 12.0 million viewers overall. This season, "SVU" built on its 18-49 lead-in by 50 percent.
"Law & Order: Criminal Intent," takes viewers into the minds of its criminals while following the psychological approaches the Major Case Squad uses to solve the crimes.
Tuesdays at 9 p.m. (ET), "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" has averaged a 2.8 rating, 7 share in adults 18-49 and 8.9 million viewers overall for the 2006-07 television season. "Criminal Intent" has built on its 18-49 lead-in by 27 percent in adults 18-49.
All three 'Law & Order' programs are produced by Wolf Films and NBC Universal Television Studios.