(The Walt Disney Company)
On Friday, The Simpsons held its second-ever panel at Disney’s D23 Expo, moderated by voice actress Yeardley Smith. A press release for the panel touted “a surprise so shocking it can’t even be announced in press release form!” Simpsons simps hoping for a big announcement of some kind – a new movie? A spin-off? A new game? The Ullman shorts? Cancellation??? – unfortunately had their dreams denied. Here’s a recap of the event.
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According to Reuters, Fox is finally weaning off their bad Simpsons-renewing habit, and have declared they they only want one more season of The Simpsons at most, if the voice actors agree to their “draconian” pay cuts. That would be Season 24, the 2012-2013 season, falling just short of the unthinkable 25 year milestone (unless you go by the Simpsons’ Tracey Ullman Show debut, which marks its 25th anniversary this April). But keep in mind these are anonymous executives, in the middle of some big-time renegotiations where they repeatedly use the press as a conduit to spread rumors and innuendo to get a more favorable deal, from a TV network that once straight up lied said their plan “is not all Seth [MacFarlane], all the time” while giving him three and maybe four shows, which happens to be a subsidiary of one of the most cartoonishly evil corporations in the world, so take that with a pillar of salt.
Also according to these unnamed executives, “the show is no longer profitable for the network.” Forbes asked a bunch of analysts, and found that ending the show would likely more profitable for Fox than continuing it:
The freedom of selling the show into syndication on cable or even to online streaming providers like Netflix or Amazon could generate $1-2 million an episode for a show that has produced nearly 500 of them, RBC estimates.
Those revenues – around $750 million of incremental content monetization – are likely to come across a number of years, because of the original syndication deal and the likely preference for smoother earnings, “but the upside is real.”
RBC estimates broader syndication for The Simpsons post-cancellation could add 10 cents per share to News Corp.’s bottom line.
So now we appear to have reached the point foretold by Troy McClure, who once asked, “Who knows what adventures [the Simpsons]’ll have between now and the time the show becomes unprofitable?” Extra credit goes to former Simpsons writer Greg Daniels, who back in 2008 predicted the show would end when “the per episode syndication price falls below the cost of producing an episode.”