Dry your tears and extinguish your prayer candles — cult favorite sitcom ‘Community’ has been saved from cancellation. As soon as NBC announced that it was dropping the popular comedy after its fifth season, fans began to work through the Kübler-Ross stages of grief. First was a loud bout of denial marked by dozens of “noooo” tweets, and then came the bargaining. Fans looked to the usual saviors of beloved network shows cancelled too soon, Netflix and Hulu (which owns the digital rights to the existing five seasons), but today it’s online video dark horse Yahoo who has swooped in to save the day.
Sony Pictures Television, the production company responsible for “Community,” announced the deal yesterday. Yahoo will give “Community” a sixth season composed of 13 episodes. The deal was announced just in time to save the show, as contracts for most of the core cast were set to expire on June 30, meaning that the ensemble would have gone their separate ways.
“Community” is the latest in a long line of fan-favorite shows that have gotten a second life in the digital world. Online viewing often helps shows to find strong loyal audiences months or even years after they’ve gone off the air. Keeping certain shows on digital life-support can pay off big time. The most notable, of course, is “Arrested Development,” which got a much delayed fourth season courtesy of Netflix after developing a far stronger audience online than it had ever managed to garner on television.
Though “Community” certainly has a loyal cult following, it seems likely that the move by Yahoo is mostly meant to draw attention to Yahoo Screen, the Yahoo video platform that aims to take a bite out of YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer made it clear at the 2014 NewFronts in New York City that Yahoo wants a seat at the online video table. Borrowing a play out of Netlix’s book by saving a beloved sitcom is definitely one way to get there.
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