Will rising production costs kill the 'The Simpsons'?
Faced with declining viewership and escalating expenses, Fox is hinting that it wants to end TV's longest-running sitcom.
Fox wants the show for only one more season at the most -- and only then if it can get it for a 25% to 30% discount, TheWrap reports. The show is too expensive for Fox, and the six main voice actors have been asked to cut their salaries nearly in half.
If the actors and 20th Century Fox Television cannot reach a deal, then the current season of "The Simpsons" will likely be its last.
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The show has run for 23 seasons -- an eternity in television time. The studio and the Fox network are both owned by News Corp. (NWS).
The show has run for so long that the six main actors make serious cash: $440,000 an episode, or $8 million a season. That's a lot of doughnuts. The actors recently offered to scale back to $300,000 an episode in exchange for back-end payments, but the studio rejected the deal and countered with a $250,000-per-episode offer, The Wrap reports.
Viewership for "The Simpsons" has dropped some 20% in the last five years to 7.1 million an episode, on average. That's to be expected for any aging show.
But even as viewers decline, costs go up. Fox pays the studio more than $5 million per episode in licensing fees, according to The Los Angeles Times, and with the salary demands the financials just don't seem doable.
Ending the series altogether and just putting shows in syndication would make the studio plenty of money. Each of the show's 506 episodes could get as much as $1.5 million each in syndication, totaling about $750 million, according to NPR.
The Los Angeles Times has more:
Until the show stops producing new episodes, News Corp.'s hands are tied with regards to finding new buyers that will pay more for the repeats. Once the show is done on Fox, the contracts News Corp.'s syndication unit 20th Television struck with local stations will start to expire and new rerun deals can be struck with both local stations and cable networks. Given the strength of "The Simpsons" performance in reruns, there will be no shortage of buyers.The show is only two seasons away from 25, and it would be a shame to see it end before then. "The Simpsons" helped make Fox what it is today, after all. Fox should do the show justice and give it the sendoff it deserves.
I agree with gtllrmn... this show is a cash cow for Fox. I suspect this "issue" is nothing more than an attempt by Fox to increase ratings for the final two seasons while simultaneously stuffing their pockets. Typical corporate greed! I hope the cast holds their ground. DON'T GIVE AN INCH!!! In fact, they should demand an even higher salary in exchange for completing the final two years. 25 years would be a HUGE milestone and a crowning achievement for this series. For the series to end prematurely would be an equally huge FAILURE and would irreparably tarnish the legacy of the show.
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The solid report comes a month after the retailer closed all of its Canadian operations.
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