April 02, 2010 at 04:34 PM EDT

Image Credit: Craig Blankenhorn/FXThe fate of another critically acclaimed but ratings-challenged drama series may once again rest in the hands of DirecTV.

Multiple sources confirm to me exclusively that Sony is talking to DirecTV’s 101 Network about partnering on a possible fourth season of Damages. The cost-sharing arrangement would be similar to the one DirecTV and NBC forged with Friday Night Lights, which means future seasons of Damages would air first on DirecTV with a second window on FX.

An insider close to the talks says Sony reached out to DirecTV last month after it became clear that, for financial reasons, FX could no longer keep Damages afloat on its own. “DirecTV is one of several outlets that have been approached,” says a source. “All options are on the table.”

Despite widespread critical adoration, Damages has always been a ratings weakling. Season-to-date, the show is averaging under a million viewers. Its 18-49 numbers, meanwhile, are positively frightening; in recent weeks the mystery thriller has been notching a .2 in the desirable demo. That said, Damages gives FX tremendous cache. It’s the network’s most critically lauded property and a consistent awards magnet. The show has picked up four Emmys, including two consecutive lead actress wins for Glenn Close. The third season concludes on April 19.

Reps for FX and Sony declined to comment.

Thoughts? Should DirecTV do the right thing and rescue Patty Hewes and Co. from certain death? Sound off below!

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