Call it internet irony; for a show that attracts so much snark, criticism and hatred on the web, was NBC's Heroes saved from cancellation because of its online popularity? Possibly. You're all to blame.

The strange possibility was brought to light by the San Francisco Chronicle's Tim Goodman, who watched show creator Tim Kring talk at the recent TV of Tomorrow show in the Bay Area:

Kring said that his young son has a fascination with the Guinness Book of World Records, so Kring bought him the latest edition and they were thumbing through it. In the section on television, he saw a picture from his series and learned "Heroes" was the most downloaded show ever. "Nobody had told me that," he said... Kring seemed to indicate that precisely at the time "Heroes" came along, NBC and its various properties were very, very eager to beef up online content and thus were more than willing to throw money at [non-television] "Heroes" related digital elements. It makes you wonder if "Heroes" is being celebrated (with a panel at TVOT and a re-up at NBC) not because people are actually watching it on a medium that prints money for hits, but because it does well in areas that might, some day (soon?), be as lucrative?

(It's worth noting that, while Heroes may be the most downloaded show ever, it is currently fifth in Neilsen's official online ratings - Lost is first - although Neilsen doesn't include Hulu.com views in their chart, meaning that Fox and NBC shows are heavily under-represented.)

In any case, if NBC kept Heroes from being cancelled due to its potential future money-making possibilities, then Knight Rider fans should start downloading that show as much as humanly possible right now, just in case.

"Heroes" creator Tim Kring talks up the interactive element. Which is probably why it got renewed for Season 4. [The Bastard Machine]