(CAUTION LANGUAGE WARNING IN VIDEO)
The reason why I have shown you the hilarious video above is because I believe it makes a thought provoking statement of truth… “Ratings don’t matter in the internet age”… “It’s 2014, we tweet about our shows and binge watch them at our own convenience”.
For shows like that of Community this statement couldn’t be more true as I feel traditional forms of ratings measurement no longer have the capacity to reflect modern viewing habits. Just because no one is watching a show on television does not mean it is not being watched. As a result of this miss-reflection thousands of loyal fans almost lost what is in my opinion one of the best shows on television, without ever making it to the highly anticipated #SixSeasonsAndAMovie.
These two graphs highlight just how poorly Community has rated especially when compared with Big Bang Theory, CBS’s number one watched comedy sitcom, who just so happened to be one of Community’s time slot competitors. From a networks perspective it is easy to see why NBC made the choice to cancel Community after its fifth season. Audience numbers were on a steady decline throughout the course of the series. Compare that to say Game Of Thrones’ Ratings and you would be crazy to keep the show running.
The problem is however that measuring a show like Community through its television viewership does not accurately depict its fan base, in fact it does not even begin to scratch the surface. The reason for this is because the very type of fan base Community attracts (Tech Savoy, Pop Culture Loving, Sarcastic humored, Nerds) are the type of people who prefer to watch shows online rather than on television. I, myself am one of those nerds. I have never even watched a single episode of Community on TV before, but I certainly have watched all of them to date, numerous times. This style of TV watching seems to be the trending thing now days which brings forth the question, Do ratings matter in the age of the Internet? Personally I like to wait until a season is finished so that I can watch all the episodes at once in a glorious lazy weekend marathon. Yes, I am a binge watching pirate and no, I am not ashamed to admit it.
When Community was cancelled its massive following suddenly made itself known through social media. Fans tweeted out #savecommunity and #sixseasonsandamovie, encouraging others to tweet advertisers to let them know they saw their ads during Community and to sign petitions. Fan made videos began to pop up on the web begging NBC to keep the show running and bunch of fans even flash mobbed NBC’s Headquarters. Six Seasons and a Movie, originally a quote from Community itself, became the war cry of Communities mass underground following who would not rest until that benchmark was met (Jaworski 2014).
Further evidence of Community’s fan base was seen when Community won the right to be on the cover of TV Guide after a competition was held to vote for your favorite show.
After all the cry out and support for the show, Yahoo saw an amazing opportunity and have agreed to keep the show running at least until season six and a movie. The show will be entirely online which works out perfectly for the average Community fan.
“It’s season six of ‘Community’ — you’ll be watching it the way you always watched it, only now, it’s legal!” creator Dan Harmon quipped of the show’s loyal fan base, which always seemed to find ways to watch the perennial bubble show even when it was bounced on and off NBC’s lineup” (Prudom 2014).
To me as an internet watcher, all of this goes to show that there needs to be a better way of measuring a shows success in the modern era. I propose less concern over a shows television ratings and more attention paid to its level of overall media penetration. Otherwise more great shows like Community could end before their time.
The Big Bang Theory Graphs 2014, Series Monitor, viewed 17 August 2014, <http://seriesmonitor.com/thebigbangtheory/graphs.html>.
Community Graphs 2014, Series Monitor, viewed 17 August 2014, <http://seriesmonitor.com/cancelled/community/graphs.html>.
Game Of Thrones Graphs 2014, Series Monitor, viewed 17 August 2014, <http://seriesmonitor.com/gameofthrones/graphs.html>.
Jaworski, M 2014, Six Seasons and a Movie: A History of How Community Beat the Odds, The Daily Dot, weblog post, 9 May, viewed 17 August 2014, <http://www.dailydot.com/geek/community-saved-fans/>.
Prudom, L 2014, ‘Comic-Con: ‘Community’ Cast on the Move to Yahoo, Six Seasons and a Movie’, Variety, 24 July, viewed 17 August 2014, <http://variety.com/2014/digital/news/community-yahoo-season-six-movie-comic-con-1201268681/>.