So it turns out the internet was saving TV shows before people even really knew what the internet was. The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin has admitted that the show would never have gotten on the air were it not for the internet.
The Oscar and Emmy award winning writer was present at a West Wing reunion with some of the show's cast members over the weekend to celebrate ten years since the show went off the air.
— Sandra Gonzalez (@TheSandraG) June 11, 2016
Sorkin said that the show's prospects were looking bleak from the minute he typed 'FADE OUT' as news of Monica Lewinsky's affair with Bill Clinton broke making it a less than ideal time to be broadcasting a show with a noble US president as the central protagonist.
So the script was put in a drawer for a little bit until NBC underwent a leadership change and were interested in developing it.
"They were kind of interested in it, but they brought me up to the Chairman's office and had some notes," Sorkin told the crowd at the ATX TV Festival.
Said notes would have had a radical change in the show that would go on to be ranked as among the greatest of all time.
"They wanted things like Josh to literally go out in a boat and help the Cuban refugees [in the pilot] ... This was just people talking and they had a problem with that."
It was Warner Bros. who came to Sorkin's aid. They were apparently so keen on the show that they created four new demographics to convince the network the show was a good idea - households that make more than $75,000 per year, households with college graduates, households that are New York Times subscribers and most importantly households with Internet access.
The show debuted in 1999, right in the middle of the dot com boom when internet companies were desperate to find places to advertise.
"If you go back and watch first-air episodes (complete with commercials), you'll notice that "well over half of our ad buys were for dot coms," Sorkin said. "That's what got us on the air. I'm grateful to the Internet for getting this show on the air."
The West Wing's reunion wasn't the only TV reunion to take place at the ATX Festival. The cast of Friday Night Lights were also reunited.