Well, that was close.
Sony's offbeat sitcom Community, canceled at the very last minute by NBC, has been renewed at the very last minute (a few hours before contracts with Sony were set to expire, in fact) by Yahoo Screen. Thirteen episodes of the sitcom will air on Yahoo starting in the fall.
At the Digital Content NewFronts this year, companies like Yahoo, YouTube and Crackle were voluble about a commitment to premium content; now Yahoo, at least, will be able to say that, like Netflix, it has a sitcom with huge cult appeal (albeit some very low live viewership) and, unlike Netflix, it's selling ad inventory against that show.
Community essentially lived on goodwill and fandom for five years on NBC; after two consecutive half-season orders (during which time the network inexplicably pitted the geeky comedy against the Death Star of geeky comedies, CBS's unbeatable nerdfest The Big Bang Theory), NBC president Bob Greenblatt finally pulled the plug. Showrunner and creator Dan Harmon was initially blasé about the prospect of renewal (at least that's what fans parsing his every move on Twitter thought), but eventually said in no uncertain terms that he'd be very much in favor of a sixth season. After all, every time the show has come up for renewal (it's been on the bubble since the end of Season 3), fans have tweeted their support with #sixseasonsandamovie (click that hashtag if you'd like to see some serious social media rejoicing, by the way).
Yahoo's fellow digital video concern Hulu, which is owned by a consortium of TV networks and was, rumor had it, where most viewers caught the show anyway, passed on the sixth-season renewal last week. So Community devotees will now swarm to Yahoo to find their show, which should warm the hearts of CEO Marissa Mayer’s ad sales team.
And Harmon, who also has offbeat sci-fi cartoon Rick & Morty on Adult Swim (itself a project he started after he was dismissed from the Community gig in advance of a disastrous fourth season and subsequently rehired), gave a typically pithy quote to the press. “I am very pleased that Community will be returning for its predestined sixth season on Yahoo. I look forward to bringing our beloved NBC sitcom to a larger audience by moving it online. I vow to dominate our new competition. Rest easy, Big Bang Theory. Look out, Bang Bus!”
(No, Internet, we're not going to provide a link for the phrase "bang bus.")
More good news for Harmon and company came in a follow-up interview with Sony president of programming and production Zack Van Armburg at The Hollywood Reporter: Yahoo won't cut a dollar from the series' budget. And really, Harmon gets to have his cake and eat it, too. The show will have its sixth season, and he'll get to leave NBC with this hilarious series of potshots at the network's development strategy: