'The Simpsons' Might Be Saved by Syndication Gold Mine
Things were looking bleak for "The Simpsons." As we reported yesterday, the desire to cut costs and keep the show on the air was going to mean serious pay cuts for the voice cast, which they were not likely to agree to. But Fox just found itself a shiny new bargaining chip that might mean the actors won't get what they want.
Analyst David Banks noted that should "The Simpsons" be cancelled, it might actually earn a boatload money for Fox without requiring any new episodes. Why? One word: syndication.
Apparently, "The Simpsons" has a 17-year-old deal that prevents it from being broadcast in syndication on any channels other than local networks. Simply put, that means no cable, no Hulu, no Netflix.
If the show were to be cancelled, that deal would no longer exist and "The Simpsons" could finally be sold out to cable channels (you can bet cable networks like TBS, Comedy Central and Cartoon Network would probably love some re-runs) and be put on Netflix streaming.
Are you ready for this? Estimates have the revenue from these syndication sales at about $750 million. Yes, that means that if "The Simpsons" were cancelled, it could mean $750 million in earnings for Fox, without making a single episode. That's what having the longest-running show on TV will do for you.
What that means for the show is that the actors have just lost all of their leverage. At this point, Fox still stands to make a lot of money if the actors don't come back and the show ends. So as far as the network is concerned, the actors can either take their pay cuts (of a rumored 45%), or go ahead and quit.
Given that twist in this tale, we could end up seeing the actors sign on for another season very soon. So don't have a cow, man.