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Yahoo!'s 'Community' Revival Means the End of Cancellations


PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- If your favorite show has a fan base obsessive enough to not only fight for its existence, but to shell out to companies or sponsors to keep it around, it no longer needs to be cancelled.

Viewers began understanding that new order last year, when Netflix  (NFLX) revived the cult comedy Arrested Development and brought back Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, Portia de Rossi, Jessica Walter and much of the show's core cast seven years after Fox  (FOXA) cancelled it. The Netflix version bore only a superficial resemblance to the original material, thanks largely to cost constraints, but showrunner Michael Hurwitz proved it could be done.

Next month, Netflix gets another crack at saving a series as it picks up six episodes of The Killing, the haunting crime drama that AMC dropped in September before developer Veena Sud could wrap up her story arc. The show, based on a Danish crime drama of the same name, gets six episodes to finish its story and brings back both its leads -- Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman -- to wrap up detectives Linden and Holder's plotlines.

But this is what viewers have come to expect from Netflix. The streaming service has not only thrown a whole lot of cash behind original content including Arrested Development, Eli Roth's Hemlock Grove and its highly touted political drama House Of Cards, but it's earned Emmy nominations for each -- with House Of Cards winning three last year. It's creating its own binge-watchable programming like Orange Is The New Black, but is also the medium of choice when, say, LucasFlim wants to wrap up Star Wars:The Clone Wars somewhere other than Time Warner's (TWX) Cartoon Network.

But that was about the extent of TV viewers' fallback plan. The accepted wisdom was that if Netflix or the folks behind Fox, NBC and ABC-driven Hulu didn't want to save a show, no one else would. Maybe Amazon would take a flier on a fallen series, but it's still testing the waters for original content including X-Files creator Chris Carter's The After and the John Goodman-led comedy Alpha House. In the meantime, it seems content to spend on known commodities including Downton Abbey episodes and the HBO back catalog. Viewing Amazon (AMZN), Hulu and Netflix as the only streaming options for a cancelled series vastly underestimates the number of companies fighting for a piece of the expanding video streaming audience and just how much they're willing to shell out to get your traffic.

When Yahoo!  (YHOO) announced earlier this week that it was picking up the critically beloved and intellectually adored -- if lightly watched -- NBC comedy Community, it exposed a whole lot more than the power of show creator Dan Harmon or the influence of the show's fans. It put Yahoo! into the conversation about streaming when it previously couldn't get a word in edgewise. Before Marissa Mayer took over as chief executive, Yahoo! began inserting comedy clips among the news offerings on its front page. That didn't go over so well, which led Mayer and company to invest in the Tom Hanks interactive sci-fi series Electric City and the Ken Marino Bachelor spoof Burning Love for its Yahoo! Screen division.

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