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.

By Kim Peterson Oct 6, 2011 3:42PM
The end of "The Simpsons" is near.

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.

Post continues below.
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.

Tags: Hollywood
8Comments
Oct 6, 2011 4:50PM
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Shrimp, I am not a simpsons fan, but, is anybody holding a gun to your head FORCING you to watch it? There are plenty of people who would be saddened by the end of this show (just like you would be sad if your favorite show was ended) Let em get to their 25th, and just be quiet because nobody is making you watch this show.

Oct 6, 2011 5:10PM
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About 10 years ago, (give or take) the same exact issue came up with this show. The actors wanted more money. Would Fox recast? Would they tank the show altogether? What is poor, downtrodden Fox Network to do? They paid, they got new content for another 10 years, made money hand over fist by selling ad space, merchandising and other assorted commodities and all is right with the world. Fox won't give up this cash cow until the content is so bad that nobody tunes in anymore.
Oct 6, 2011 9:57PM
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oh my god. People that keep talking about declining ratings for the Simpsons don't realize, that 
1. It still gets 7-10 million viewers per episode and
2. Compared to other shows on the Animation Domination block, the Simpsons beats everything except Family Guy in ratings. Even at that, The Simpsons many times will have better ratings than anything on the Animation Domination block. ex. Season premiere night. 
Heres the average ratings for the last seasons of all Animation Domination block.
The Simpsons- 7.1
Family Guy- 7.66
The Cleveland Show- 6.12
American Dad- 4.7
Bob's Burgers- 5.07

So as you can see, with being able to see shows on the internet any time now, all TV is facing declining ratings.
Oct 7, 2011 4:57PM
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The Simpsons won't end permenantly. If Fox cancels it we all know some other network will pick it up.
Oct 18, 2011 1:30PM
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i agree with awesome dude FOX cancelled Futurama two times and tried to so many times but it picked back up and made a new season. I bet the same thing will happen with the Simpsons a few years people will miss it and it will be back. 
Oct 7, 2011 10:13AM
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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. 

Oct 7, 2011 9:52AM
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Simpson is worth money? Maybe I should put my crap in a nice box and put it for bidding.
Oct 6, 2011 5:55PM
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CANCEL THESE FOLKS ARE WAY OVER PAID

 

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