Yahoo, once a towering force in the search engine wars, has been struggling to maintain relevance in a culture where Google now reigns supreme. In an effort to boost revenue and traffic, Yahoo launched Yahoo Screen - with the hopes that their foray into the world of streaming content could revitalize the company with new users and advertisers.
As part of their television coup, Yahoo Screen secured the rights for the fabled sixth season of Community, which had found itself without a hope or a home when NBC finally cancelled the cult series after five seasons. The move was meant to legitimize the fledgling service, and built excitement for what was to come. In addition to Community, Yahoo Screen also nabbed the rights for Other Space - Spy director Paul Feig’s sci-fi comedy - as well as Sin City Saints, a comedy about a Las Vegas-based NBA team. Now that the numbers are in, Yahoo’s would-be coup is looking more and more like an oops.
Variety is reporting that Yahoo has taken a massive $42 million hit on their Q3 earnings, effectively writing off the budget costs for their three flagship series and forcing the company to rethink their movement towards streaming content. Yahoo CFO Ken Goldman specifically called out the three series for their earnings woes as well as the company’s inability to successfully monetize their new venture.
“We thought long and hard about it, and what we concluded is certain of our original video, we couldn’t see a way to make money over time. We’re not saying we’re not going to do these at all in the future. But what we are saying is, in three cases at least, it didn’t work the way we had hoped it to work, and we’ve decided to move on.”
While this leaves the door open for more Yahoo Screen ventures in the future, any hopes that Yahoo might be pitching in to help with a possible Community movie have been effectively dashed. Though the cast of the series is still hopeful a movie might happen in the future, given the hit or miss (but, arguably, mostly miss) nature of season six, it might be best to just finally allow Community to fade into the annals of TV history, all the more so given this latest news, as well as the conclusive nature of the season 6 finale.
Community gained a cult following over its five season run on NBC, but could never quite pull the audience numbers it needed to justify its existence. This famously led to creator Dan Harmon being fired by the network prior to its fourth season, only to be brought back for its fifth and final season after negative fan and critical reaction. After being cancelled in 2014, fans took to social media with the hashtag #SixSeasonsAndAMovie in an effort to get anyone to pick the series back up.
Unfortunately, even after the move to Yahoo Screen, Community season six had to contend with such problems as missing cast members - including Donald Glover and Yvette Nicole Brown - and much of the show's spark seemed to leave with them; perhaps, in part, also due to Harmon becoming more involved with his Adult Swim series, Rick and Morty. Compounding this was the poor performance of Other Space (a comedy that meant well but just couldn’t find its audience) and Sin City Saints, which reeked of mediocrity.
The short of it: Yahoo was late jumping into the streaming game, with Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon all producing original content of considerably greater quality. Another issue was the lack of app services for Yahoo Screen, forcing most users to watch content from their computers in a move unreflective of current streaming trends. The fates of the aforementioned series remain up in the air, but it's safe to assume Yahoo will take a long, hard look at their process and their bottom line before committing to anything else in the future.
We'll bring you any future Community-related news as it comes our way.