It’s crucial that a TV show be supported by its fanbase. In an advertising-driven business, it doesn’t matter how critically acclaimed a series is. If it’s on network TV, it has to hit a number satisfactory to the sponsors. So even if a show is as rabidly adored as Community is by a young cult fanbase, a network has to do what it has to do.
For that reason, Community was benched at mid-season, making way for the return of 30 Rock. But as series creator Dan Harmon said at the show’s Paleyfest Panel this past weekend, there is a silver lining to Community’s current situation: now that 30 Rock has drawn essentially the same numbers (and in some cases even lower) than Community did in the Thursday night eight o’clock timeslot, fans of the gang at Greendale hoping for a fourth season renewal can breathe a little easier. Now NBC must know that shows in the eight o’clock spot have it rough, going up against ratings heavyweights like CBS’s The Big Bang Theory and FOX’s American Idol.
Everybody’s favorite study group is back March 15th. To celebrate the return of Community, NBC is running a series of animated webisodes on Hulu and NBC.com entitled “Abed’s Master Key.” Additionally, NBC is playing up cast member Jim Rash’s recent Oscar win for his writing work on The Descendants to drum up some viewers for Community.
Despite being benched, Community’s chances for a fourth season renewal are far from slim. From the business end, it would benefit NBC and Sony (the company that produces the show) to keep Community around for at least another season to hit a number of episodes adequate for syndication. Community’s ratings have been low, but consistent. In a time slot where it is hard to get any viewers, consistency in ratings, even if they are low, is very important to a struggling network like NBC, and canning a show like Community might not be the best decision.
The most important thing for Community fans now is to watch the show live. If this show is going to survive, it needs as many live viewers as it can get. Watching on Hulu is fine, but it really doesn’t make as much of a difference as a live viewer does. So if you’re a Community fan, clear your Thursday schedule from eight to eight thirty and sit back to support great television.