Is The Simpsons on the verge of cancellation?

A dispute over cast salaries is threatening The Simpsons. But there's another factor, that might just leave the show on the verge of the axe...

The Simpsons: television's first family

Forgive the slightly sensationalist headline, but for the first time in eons, it seems like the future of The Simpsons might actually be in jeopardy.

At first glance, this looks like your standard cast salary story. In this case, Fox is looking for the voice talent behind The Simpsons to take a pay cut from their existing salaries, which are up to $8m per series of the show. Fox is asking them to take a 45% drop, arguing that, while it’s keen to carry on making the show, the existing economic model for doing so can’t continue. As such, if it can’t reach agreement, the plug is likely to pulled on the show next year.

The Simpsons, lest we forget, is currently up to season twenty three.

Ordinarily, this is the kind of story, then, where you figure rich people fight it out, before coming to an agreement. But what puts a slightly different spin on it is a story that popped up over at Deadline, where it reports on the work of RBC Capital Markets analyst, David Banks.

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Banks, it reports, has argued that Fox is tied into a 17-year old deal, which puts limitations on its syndication options for the show where local television stations are concerned. Since that original deal was put in place, cable in the US has exploded, but due to the restrictions the deal puts on Fox, it’s not been able to fully exploit this.

Should the show come to an end, however, then apparently, so will the restrictions. And that opens up a major new revenue stream for Fox (a new deal could be worth as much as $750m). No wonder the Deadline article is headlined ‘Would The Simpsons Be Worth More Dead Than Alive’. You can read it here.

There’s still a sense that hardball is being played here, though, but if Fox is making noises about cancelling the show, at least it has a tangible fallback position this time, which it hasn’t always had. We’d still expect things to be resolved, but for the first time, there is the distinct possibility that this particular set of negotiations might not have a happy ending.

Unless you’re an accountant.

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