NBC, which has been riding high in the ratings this fall premiere season, has decided to delay the premieres of both "Community" and "Whitney," pushing the pair back to a yet-to-be-determined date. The two comedies had been slated for a move to Fridays this season, which, while no longer the traditional dead zone it used to be for the big networks, certainly isn't either as prime or competitive a slot as the shows' previous night of Thursday.
In a statement released last night, NBC said that the move was taking place so that the network could concentrate its marketing dollars on its new shows, like the successful "Go On" and "Revolution."
Given the success we've had for the past four weeks - including winning the first week of the season in A18-49 - we've decided to continue to concentrate our promotional strength on our new NBC shows that are scheduled Monday through Wednesday and have therefore decided to hold "Community" and "Whitney" from their previously announced premieres of October 19th. Without having to launch these comedies on Friday at this time, we can keep our promotion focused on earlier in the week -- plus we will have both comedies in our back pocket if we need to make any schedule changes on those nights. When we have a better idea of viewing patterns in the next few weeks, we will announce new season premieres of "Whitney" and "Community."
While "Community" has a significant online following, the series has never done well enough in ratings to keep off the bubble. This new season is particularly loaded, as it will see new showrunners David Guarascio and Moses Port take over for ousted creator Dan Harmon.
Guarascio and Port did a little press before the date change was announced, and are clearly well aware of not just the burdens of expectations on them because of what happened with Harmon but also of the potential difficult with the Friday schedule. They told the New York Times that "Especially with a show that’s been on the bubble and is on a new night and time, in a funky time slot, our No. 1 priority has always been our returning fans more than anybody else. If some new people want to come on board, great. We’re not going to shift anything to try and attract anybody. It’s a fool’s errand."
This upcoming season of "Community," the show's fourth, is only slated for 13 episodes, another dire omen about the future of the comedy. On the plus side, NBC's moving back the premiere date can be looked at as a sign the network's not yet ready to abandon the series, because of that were the case it would simply get dumped with little to no marketing push. And the fact that they're holding onto the shows with "schedule changes" in mind may find either "Community," "Whitney" or both moved away from the planned Friday to a more-watched night of the week.