NBC Runs For 'Office,' Follows President, Other Time Slots

NBC sees more room in "The Office"--for ratings growth. The network used three high-profile slots this week to air episodes "out of turn," looking to heighten new interest and drive viewership.

The half-hour comedy followed NBC News coverage of President Bush's "State of the Union" on Tuesday. The network hoped to benefit by pairing the upscale profile of "The Office" with a similar audience skew for the news event.

Then last night, back-to-back episodes aired in the highly rated "ER" time slot at 10 p.m. NBC apparently wanted to capitalize on viewers who may have mistakenly tuned in to the hit drama.

Earlier Thursday, the show appeared in its regular 8:30 p.m. home. All four episodes were repeats--another sign that reaching potentially new devotees was the goal.

"The Office" is having a great season creatively, and we feel additional exposure will bring even more viewers to the show and deliver solid ratings in these special time periods," says a NBC spokeswoman.



The gambit has had some success.

The Tuesday episode won the 10:30 p.m. half-hour, beating CBS' "Two and a Half Men." The victory was possibly the result of a stronger political lead-in from NBC News, which out-rated CBS News' coverage. "The Office" won the half-hour with a 1.9 "live" rating among adults 18 to 49, versus a 1.6 for "Men." (ABC stuck with analysis of the speech in the 10:30 half-hour and fared poorly).

Both "The Office" and "Men" performed well below their season averages in the demo, where "Men" leads by a slightly larger margin: 4.7 versus a 4.3. Those ratings include viewing via DVRs in the seven days after broadcast--which isn't a factor in ad sales. Negotiations are taking place based on "live" viewing only.

But DVR viewing ("The Office" is heavily recorded, meaning that "Men" may be more lucrative if it has more "live" viewers) helps in the sampling department. Whether it drives viewers to watch during the broadcast window is up for debate.

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