Despite having been canceled by NBC, the sitcom “Community” lives on, thanks to some unlikely new backers. Tech giant of the 1990s Yahoo will air the show’s sixth season on their own video property, Yahoo screen, and now they’ve announced Japanese car-maker Honda as the show’s presenting sponsor. Community had managed to develop a loyal fan base, becoming something of a cult classic during its 5 seasons the broadcast network before being given the axe.
Community’s story proves just how dramatically the television landscape has changed in recent years, particularly due to the rise of online media sources. Just five years ago, a show being cancelled by a major network like NBC probably would have meant the end of the line, with the off chance that another cable network could swoop in to aqcuire rights to the show at a discount price. Now Yahoo, a web company, will be showing the popular sitcom, while NBC and the other networks no longer posess the power that they once did as gatekeepers.
The current TV environment has also created another strange bedfellow in Honda, indicating that companies outside of the tech and media industries are taking a new look at what opportunities exist in content creation. One of Honda’s new vehicles is featured heavily in one of Community’s season six episodes, and considering that they’ve become a sponsor, the marketing team at Honda obviously saw value in sponsoring the show versus, for example, creating another traditional ad spot. I wouldn’t be surprised to see other non-media companies get more heavily involved in the process of creating entertainment content, much of which will then be able to bypass traditional networks and studios, the historic gatekeepers of television.