The Simpsons currently has a weird syndication deal where reruns can only be sold to local broadcast networks, because cable wasn’t very profitable when the deal was made twenty years ago. Nowadays, cable is a pretty big deal, and Fox stands to earn an estimated $1-2 million per episode from a cable syndication deal – and since there will be at least 559 episodes, that deal could be worth more than $1 billion.
This was a sticking point during the contract renegotiations in 2011, when the voice actors demanded a share in the profits (and didn’t get it). It was widely assumed a cable deal could not be negotiated until after the show is cancelled: an analyst quoted in Forbes said “the cancellation of the show would allow [Fox] to finally sell off-network syndication rights into cable channels,” and an Adult Swim bumper seemed to echo this (“Now put that thing to bed, FOX / so we can buy it”).
Well, apparently that’s no longer the case: TV Guide says Fox is getting ready to sell The Simpsons to cable within the next year.