EXCLUSIVE: There is a glimmer of hope that there could be a sixth season of cult comedy series Community. I have learned that Hulu is in talks with Community producer Sony Pictures TV for more original installments of the show, which was cancelled by NBC earlier this month. Sources stress that conversations are preliminary and it is unclear whether they would lead to a deal, but I hear there is will on both sides. That includes Community creator Dan Harmon, who confessed on his blog that he had warmed up to the possibility of continuing the show elsewhere, changing his stance from “eh” when Sony TV called him with the news of the series’ cancellation by NBC to “sure, let’s talk” two days later. Said Harmon, “I’m not going to be the guy that re-cancels cancelled Community.”
With its devoted following by a core group of passionate fans, Community is the type of show digital platforms crave. Complicating the series’ options is the fact that it has a digital syndication deal in place with Hulu, in addition to a cable off-network pact with Comedy Central. That makes Hulu a perfect home for the comedy as it is the kind of streaming service where a show like Community would do best and because it already carries the series’ library via an existing agreement with Sony.
A high-profile acquisition like a new season of Community would make a statement for Hulu, which signaled an aggressive expansion into original programming at its upfront last month, with new CEO Mike Hopkins vowing to quadruple the streaming service’s investment in original content over the next year. Additionally, Hulu’s audience reach — Hulu Plus has more than 6 million subscribers — could sustain a network-level comedy.
Probably reassuring for Community fans is Sony TV’s strong track record in bringing cancelled series back. In addition to getting bubble comedies Community and Rules of Engagement renewed season after season on NBC and CBS, respectively, the studio brokered a deal to move acclaimed drama Damages to DirecTV after it was cancelled by FX. It also found a way to bring back on their original networks such cancelled shows as Drop Dead Diva on Lifetime and Unforgettable on CBS. All three series have gone to air multiple seasons post-cancellation.