Yahoo steps up its original series game, picks up NBC's cancelled 'Community'

Signaling its boldest move yet to compete in the original series game with pay TV, as well as subscription video on demand services like Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) and Hulu, Yahoo has picked up a sixth season of the just-cancelled NBC comedy Community.

Thirteen new episodes of the offbeat comedy will debut this fall on Yahoo Screen, with their run time most likely exceeding the 21-minutes-per-episode length of the NBC run.

Right after its cancellation, producer Sony Pictures Television reportedly began talks with Hulu about extending the life of Community, which averaged a total audience of about 3.7 million viewers on NBC in the 2013-14 TV season.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Yahoo's deal doesn't call for the show's budget to be reduced from its average on-network rate of about $2 million per episode. "The budget won't be cut one dollar," Zack Van Amburg, Sony Pictures Television president of programming and production, told the entertainment magazine. "We didn't want to be producing the show at any less of the quality or production value that we had been producing. Yahoo came in with finances that were undeniable."

"Yahoo is all about connecting the best creators to the audiences who love their work," noted Kathy Savitt, CMO of Yahoo, in a statement. "Community has an incredibly passionate and loyal fan base who fought hard to keep this amazing show alive."

Yahoo has been in the production business with big names Hollywod talent before, of course, producing series with Tom Hanks, Ben Stiller and Morgan Spurlock. But this is the first time it's stepped up and bought a name-brand franchise with a multimillion-dollar price tag attached to it. 

Notably, in 2011--before House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black made it a destination for original programming--Netflix made a similar arrangement to continue the offbeat Arrested Development, which had been cancelled by Fox several years earlier. Netflix's revival of that show, however, was not successful. Season 4 of Arrested Development received almost universal panning from critics. And although it didn't release any audience numbers for the comedy, Netflix hasn't debuted a season 5.

For more:
- read this Entertainment Weekly story

Related links:
Chelsea Handler signs with Netflix, plans on-demand talk show
Yahoo hires Katie Couric for online news role
AOL, Yahoo announce new original series, bank on star power

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