The Office
The B.J. Novak Interview

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"It Was Just So Intellectually Stimulating And Inspiring; It Was All I Wanted To Do"
BJN: I think it was a good move; I thought it was then. It was a little risky. I think we felt like, to use a poker analogy, we were going all in when the chips were down, which is a good move. It's good to get that chance, because it was double or nothing at a good time to go double or nothing. Either we'd get even smaller and go away, or we would suddenly go from struggling show to big-league hit. And it's a little early to say that, but it seems like that's what is happening. WC: You'd think it's sort of counterintuitive to put a show that you want to do well, if you're NBC, opposite what is literally the #1 show on all of television. BJN: Right. But there were a couple of things going for it. One, of course, is that people are just used to seeing comedy on Thursday night. So, you know, when people heard NBC really stake their credibility on, "Hey, we promise you, these comedies are good, and you can come back and watch us on Thursdays," I think people were willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. And also, I think that people are happier watching a show about an office on Thursday night. I think if you work in an office, on Tuesday you're not so psyched about thinking about working in an office. Once the week's almost over, it's okay to kind of put your feet up and laugh about it, because the weekend's a day away. I think we make some natural sense on Thursday. WC: I feel like the whole question of counter-programming is starting to be less and less an issue now. BJN: Totally. WC: Both because there's the DVR thing, and in addition to that, there's now NBC itself selling the show on iTunes. I understand that, if you take into account how much advertising costs versus how much they're selling the episodes for, The Office is the most profitable show on TV. BJN: That is very cool. I heard that we've sold over a million downloads. And it also really helps to spread the word about The Office because people don't just tell their friends-- although we have a very word-of-mouth audience; I read The Tipping Point, and I think we're "mavens," or whatever? But our demographic is 18-34, which tends to be the biggest trendsetter. WC: And early adopters, and all that. BJN: Right, all that -- all that stuff that is going to be out of my memory in about a year. So not only do we have that kind of word of mouth, but people can actually carry the show around in their pocket [on a video iPod], so they can say, "Watch this scene."

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The Office

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