Cash flow? Almost twenty-five years on broadcast network. DVD sales. Worldwide distribution. The money has gushed into Fox and Gracie Films coffers for like ever. And now there is this:
Twenty-four seasons into its run, The Simpsons is finally headed to cable.
In a competitive situation with five networks bidding, FXX has landed the exclusive cable as well as VOD/non-linear rights to the longest-running comedy series in TV history. The deal also is set to make TV history as the priciest off-network pact ever, expected to fetch at least $750 million, and the first one to include full digital rights.
The enormous size of the deal — which some say could potentially reach $1 billion if the series keeps producing new seasons — stems from the staggering volume of Simpsons episodes available: 530 when the show starts airing on FXX in August 2014 and growing to 574 by September 2015. ...
I walk around Film Roman-Starz Media (where pre-production on The Simpsons gets done) on a regular basis. When the 26th season of the show was green lit, the happiness and relief among directors and artists was palpable. Artists' positions have been cut steadily the last few years, but the survivors are glad to be there, even if salaries are stagnant. (Artists tell me that Fox is tight with a dollar. The studio, staffers say, has to fight for every penny it gets to produce the show.)
I'm an optimist. I have every hope that The Simpsons will be produced until it hits the magic number of thirty seasons. But I'm also a realist. (That's another word for "classical cynic.") The artists who have been working on the show for ten, fifteen and twenty years won't be getting any big bonuses, now that Fox/Gracie's humongous cash cow has waddled in from the distant pasture.
(As always, I'm happy to see my cynicism proven wrong.)