Dick Law & Order: SVU is making television history this season with its record-setting 21st season, making it TV’s longest-running primetime live-action series. And Dick Wolf;s venerable crime drama starring Mariska Hargitay is nowhere near done. NBC has given Law & Order: SVU a new three-year renewal for Seasons 22, 23 and 24, expanding the gap over the previous record mark of 20 seasons set by mothership series Law & Order (1990-2010) and Gunsmoke (1955-75). The massive renewal is part of a mega new deal for Wolf has signed with Law & Order: SVU studio Universal Television, that also includes a three-year renewal for the three Chicago dramas.
This season also marks a milestone for Hargitay whose Lt. Benson became the longest-running character in a primetime live-action series, surpassing Gunsmoke‘s James Arness and Milburn Stone as well as Kelsey Grammer’s Frasier Crane.
Will she continue to extend her record portrayal of Benson, the character that has become the heart and soul of SVU? For the past number of years, Hargitay has been re-upping her SVU contract year by year. I hear she is yet to sign a deal for the newly ordered seasons but has she has publicly expressed her commitment to SVU, which has become more than a show and a personal cause for her.
Hargitay’s personal commitment to the issues tackled on SVU led her to create and oversee the Joyful Heart Foundation, dedicated to transforming society’s response to sexual violence, supporting survivors and ending the violence.
The massive renewal for SVU is far from just a nod to its legacy. Now in its 21st season, the series continues to be ratings stalwart and has emerged as one of NBCU’s strongest digital performers.
For the 2018-19 season Law & Order: SVU scored as television’s #1 most-watched series with more than 150 billion minutes viewed across NBC, USA and Ion. For the 2019-20 season to date, SVU is #1 in its Thursday 10-11 p.m. timeslot versus regular ABC and CBS competition in adults 18-49 and total viewers. In Live+ Nielsens, SVU is averaging a 1.5 rating in 18-49 and 6.5 million viewers overall and with the addition of digital and linear delayed viewing to date, the show’s season premiere episode has climbed to a 3.9 in 18-49 and 11.1 million viewers overall.
“Dick Wolf has proven time and time again that he makes shows audiences love,” said Paul Telegdy, Chairman, NBC Entertainment. “We are delighted, excited and proud that as part of this epic deal with Wolf Entertainment, NBC’s loyal audience will know that their favorite shows have a certain future for the next three years.”