Pop pop! Netflix has sealed a multi-year, non-exclusive global deal with Sony Pictures TV to start streaming all six seasons of the fan favorite comedy “Community” starting April 1. As part of the deal, Sony has also extended its license with Hulu for the show’s entire 110-episode library, but now on a non-exclusive basis.
Since both deals are non-exclusive, Sony is also looking to license the series to other platforms, and is currently in discussions with other potential partners. The show is available on Amazon Prime Video in some international territories, and had already been seen on Netflix in Latin America and Ireland.
Hulu had previously been the exclusive streaming home for “Community” repeats in the U.S., a deal that was last extended in 2016 after it acquired the rights to the sixth and final season of the show.
“Community” originally ran for five seasons on NBC, between 2009 and 2014. After the network canceled the show, Yahoo! ordered a Season 6 of “Community” to run in 2015 as part of its ill-fated Yahoo! Screen platform.
The decision to sell “Community” to multiple streamers is similar to Universal’s distribution strategy for “Parks and Recreation,” another former NBC comedy now available both on Netflix and Hulu.
In contrast, the streamers have been engaged in a bit of an arms race recently for exclusive rights to other popular off-network sitcoms. In particular, Netflix is believed to have paid more than $500 million for exclusive rights to “Seinfeld” repeats, which will leave Hulu in 2021, while NBCUniversal grabbed “The Office” from Netflix for its new Peacock service, also for around $500 million. WarnerMedia, meanwhile, paid around $425 million to pluck “Friends” from Netflix and use it to launch its new HBO Max service.
“Community,” a comedy about strangers who bond in a community-college study group, the show quickly became an experiment in deconstructing the sitcom form. Created by Dan Harmon, “Community” earned critical acclaim and a loyal (if small) fan base by parodying TV tropes and making meta jokes about pop culture. The show’s cast included Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Alison Brie, Ken Jeong, Jim Rash, Donald Glover and Chevy Chase.
“Community’s” ubiquity in streaming media comes with a dose of irony: Yahoo! spent lavishly on picking up and marketing what became the show’s final season. But ultimately, Yahoo quickly got out of the original series business and took a $42 million write down.
With no exclusive home for the repeats, however, it’s unclear what this might mean for the “movie” portion of Abed’s “Six Seasons and a Movie” prophecy — something that fans still await.