FOX goes for two more years with "The Simpsons"


Looks like the dispute with 20th Century Fox Television over financial terms for the actors to continue the series has been resolved: The longest-running scripted series on television has been renewed through Season 25, bringing the series total to a mighty 559 episodes. The Simpsons airs Sundays (8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT).

The deal takes the series through the 2013-2014 season. The statement from Fox did not specify whether that 25th season would be the show’s last, but did mention: “In the words of Homer Simpson, ‘Woo Hoo! I outlasted Andy Rooney!’”

Negotiations between the show’s principal voice actors and 20th Century Fox TV, hit an impasse 10/4, when studio to issue a statement saying that it could not produce future seasons under its current financial model. The studio asked the actors to take a 45% pay cut and they countered with a smaller reduction but a share of the show’s profits. Harry Shearer, who voices Mr. Burns and Ned Flanders, released a statement 10/7 noting he’d be willing to take a pay cut of more than 70% in exchange for a portion of those profits. Sales of reruns and DVDs, and licensing deals, have made the program one of the most profitable in television history. News Corp. has reportedly pocketed more than $1 billion in profit from the show.

Although terms of the two-year contract were not disclosed, each primary cast member currently makes $440,000 per episode, and the studio wanted to reduce that to about $250,000, according to an LA Times report.

Fox pays more than $5 million for each episode the show and it has reportedly been losing money on the new episodes it airs. Ratings have fallen in the last few years while production costs have increased.

Following the MLB American League Championship Series and World Series games on FOX, The Simpsons returns with all-new episodes beginning with “Treehouse of Horrors XXII,” on Sunday, 10/30 (8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT).

RBR-TVBR observation: Seems the show is still quite profitable as a whole, based on syndication, DVD and licensing. If Fox wants to keep the show profitable for each episode aired, they probably had to cut salaries–$5 million an episode is pretty high for an animated show. We’d say some of those back end profits were given up in exchange, and that’s fair play.