My favorite new show of this fall is NBC’s “Community.” Starring the affable Joel McHale and Chevy Chase, the comedy surrounds the happenings at a community college, and the eclectic range of students and professors who attend it. Continuing the precedent set by “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation,” NBC has created a viral website for “Community” based on the show’s setting: Greendale Community College.
The official Greendale website is accurately designed to reflect a real world community college. It’s not flashy or particularly deep with information, but does have some interesting tidbits for fans of the show. There are a series of student films in the “A/V Department” of the site, including “Six Candles,” which is central to the show’s last episode. There is also a page devoted to the school library, a section devoted to the variety of professors on campus, and what appears to be a weekly newsletter. Again, all have proved to be noteworthy in the series up until now.
My biggest qualm with the page though is an opportunity missed with the “Admissions” section. It would have been easy and worthwhile to allow fans to “apply” to the school in exchange for email updates or access to further content. Instead, the site explains that we are already accepted to the college simply by visiting the website. Regardless, I give NBC credit for developing a viral that’s strongly immersed within the show’s narrative. Nearly every component of the viral site, although not explicitly stated (which is the point), has a connection with one of the episodes thus far. This should make fans of the series excited to visit the page and see Greendale for themselves.
If you listened to our latest ViralCast or have been following the site updates, you’ll realize that television studios have committed to going viral with many shows, especially new shows. While this might appear risky, I think the move will pay dividends in the long run. These viral sites will build and maintain a fan base, generate positive word of mouth, and provide an ideal channel to post content. In the case of “Community,” I hope this world can continue to develop, and we haven’t seen the last of Greendale Community College.