NBC recently released an outline of its midseason schedule, and it has a notable omission: Community is not on the network’s midseason schedule, being replaced by a returning 30 Rock. Understandably, many fans are disappointed, especially considering that critical punching bag Whitney is being left on the schedule. (Less understandably, some fans are outraged, but I’ll get to that in a minute.) However, I think this is actually a wise business decision for NBC. I’ll explain why after the jump.

Full disclosure: I am not a Community fan. I used to be, but the second season of the show frustrated me so much that I said it should have been cancelled. Barring a slew of really awful movie releases or failed product launches, it’s going to make my list of the biggest pop culture disappointments of the year. However, what I’m about to say has nothing to do with my feelings towards how the show is doing creatively. In fact, I’ve been saying for a while now that low-rated shows I actually enjoy, such as Chuck and Fringe, should be cancelled by their respective networks.

Let’s face the facts: Community’s ratings are abysmal, and they’ve been slipping. The show was initially performing better last season against American Idol, and that show has far more viewers than Community’s competition at the moment. Commmunity is an old show with not a lot of potential to grow its viewership, even with an ad campaign. NBC knows what the show does when it leads off a night, and though it might perform slightly better if it were leading off Wednesday night, it’s not as if it has enough viewers that making the switch would be profitable. On the other hand, 30 Rock is a veteran show that performs decently well. It should be able to hold its own against the American Idol juggernaut, at least for a while.

The show that’s set to occupy the Wednesday-at-8 slot, Whitney, isn’t pulling stellar ratings, and its lead-in is The Office, a relative ratings success for NBC. It isn’t performing as well as NBC would probably like, but it’s a new show that could potentially grow its viewership in a different time slot, with the help of an ad campaign, hence the midseason move to Wednesdays at 8. It’s generally easier to get people to watch new shows than to get them to watch shows that have been running for a while. Moreover, NBC doesn’t know how Whitney will perform as a lead-off, so this is their chance to try it out. It if tanks, then they have two comedies waiting in the wings, Bent and Best Friends Forever, both of which were mysteriously left off the midseason schedule.

There’s no sense in keeping a low-rated cult favourite on the air. TV is a business, and I’d be willing to bet that NBC is losing money on Community right now. If you’re a fan of the show, by all means, write a letter to NBC telling them how much you’d love them if they kept it on the air. But outrage doesn’t seem like a justifiable reaction here. NBC doesn’t owe its viewers the privilege of being able to watch low-rated shows. Furthermore, I don’t agree with idea that NBC is making a bad business decision here. Again, like I said, keeping Community on the air is likely a money-losing proposition, and at the risk of sounding condescending, losing money is bad.

Heck, if anything, Community being left off the schedule might be a blessing in disguise for its fans. Considering that its ratings have dropped, it would probably perform even worse against American Idol in the spring compared to how it’s performing now. But now that it has been left off the midseason schedule, it can be used as schedule spackle to replace failing shows, which might end up putting it in a friendlier timeslot than it occupies at the moment. At any rate, Community hasn’t yet been cancelled, so any outrage directed at NBC is at best premature. NBC is running a business, not a charity for low-rated shows. If the network wants to get out of the rut it’s in, it’s going to have to make some tough decisions. If that means disappointing a small, rabid fanbase, then so be it.

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