Why Ratings Might Be Secondary When Considering the Renewal of ‘Community’

Mar 13, 2012  •  Post A Comment

Ratings may not matter so much for shows like "Community," says our friend Bill Carter in The New York TImes.

Carter calls the NBC show from Sony Pictures Entertainment  "one of the first shows of the so-called post-television era." 

"Community" returns to the NBC lineup this Thursday, March 15, 2012.

"The most coveted demographic, and most coveted of that demographic, these very smart, upwardly mobile, college-age kids just don’t watch TV anymore," said "Community" creator Dan Harmon.

Still, "Community" star Joel McHale tells Carter that the cast of the show "watched the ratings for ’30 Rock’ very carefully," given that his show was bumped to make room for the Tina Fey comedy.

Since "30 Rock" returned to the NBC schedule, the show has at times fared even more poorly in the ratings than "Community," which had averaged only about 4 million viewers, the story says.

Writes Carter, "Bummed as Mr. Harmon was, he said he welcomed the temporary displacement of ‘Community’ by [’30 Rock’]. He described a ‘purgatory’ in which no matter what the show tried, it continued to average only four million viewers, about a quarter as many as its CBS competitor, ‘The Big Bang Theory.’ ‘The [NBC] brass wasn’t happy,’ he said. ‘We weren’t happy. The audience was confused. So something had to happen, some kind of cardiac event, for life to get renewed.’ 

"The event, he said, that brought the show back from near death was a deal in December with the website Hulu, making earlier episodes available to an audience that had not yet caught up to them."

Harmon said he doesn’t blame NBC executives, whom he calls supportive, "especially when they are under such pressure — they’re in a knife fight with Univision for ratings, for gosh sakes," according to the piece.

Harmon is hoping viewers will come back to "Community" with its return to the NBC lineup, and that the show will be renewed for next season: "Mr. Harmon said there were also pragmatic factors in favor of ‘Community’ [getting renewed], led by NBC’s desire to see a show it has a financial interest in finish enough episodes to be sold in syndication.

"[Vernon Sanders, NBC’s executive vice president for current programs] said, ‘I wouldn’t use the word "bubble" ‘ to describe the show’s prospects of getting renewed for next season, referring to the industry term for shows with a 50-50 chance for survival. It remains unlikely, though, that ‘Community’ will suddenly wade into the mainstream in search of more traditional viewers. Coming episodes revolve around a collegewide pillow fight (substituting for the regular paintball-shootout episode) and a full-scale ‘Law & Order’ parody."


  1. Community remains one of the bright spots in a vast wasteland of “reality” junk that populates the boob tube these past couple of years. It’s return is very welcome. Great storylines, exceptionally quirky while going up against the nerdy Big Bang that dominates ratings. This is a show that should be on–pure entertainment–unlike those singing/dancing “competition” shows and the sleazy stuff from the Kardashian/Jersey Shore/Hoarders/American Pickers/American Restoration, et al.

  2. It worked! I am watching the first season on Hulu. I had caught a couple of random episodes and was not that impressed. Now that I have seen the beginning and understand the dynamics of the characters it makes sense and I enjoy it. The exact same thing happened with 30 Rock. It was not until I saw the show from the beginning that I understood the characters enough to enough the humor. I hope more shows push their first season to Hulu so that they can have the same chance to find success with myself and others.

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