Six seasons and a movie? Probably not, but NBC has decided to at least give the perpetually struggling Community a fifth year. This announcement has shocked quite a few people already (including myself), as the ratings for season four were low enough for most to assume that the comedy was ready to shuffle off this mortal coil. Couple that with the departure of Chevy Chase, and the writing seemed to be on the wall.
One factor that may have saved the series is syndication. 100 episodes is generally considered the "magic number" when it comes to a show entering the syndication market, and another season of 13 episodes (assuming that ends up being the order) would put Community at 97. Shows with small, but very loyal fanbases (see Scrubs) can be very profitable in the syndication realm, so NBC may have come to the conclusion that the potential benefits outweighed the cost of producing more episodes.
Another consideration could be the booming cable and internet programming markets. Community would be a terrific fit for an up-and-coming streaming service like Netflix or Amazon, and would also blend well on a cable network like TBS, Comedy Central, or FX. The series is produced by Sony TV, and the company would have been fully in their rights to try to find the program a new home had NBC dropped the axe.
Finally, NBC made the somewhat surprising move to cancel the vast majority of its existing comedies this week, leaving Community to almost win by default. Shows like Up All Night, Whitney, etc. just don't have the fanbase that Community commands, disappointing Neilsens or not. Whatever the reason for its renewal, I still really enjoy the show, and am glad Greendale classes aren't quite dismissed.
Are you pleased that Community is coming back? Or should season four have been the end?