Why is the Simpsons still being made? I think it’s a simple answer: After all these years, it still makes money, lots of money. The second question is maybe slightly more relevant: “Does Fox have a show to replace it yet when the Simpsons money dries up?”
Fox just greenlit a season 29 and 30 of the Simpsons, making it the longest running scripted television show in the United States. That will bring it up to 669 total episodes. It’s not a cheap show to make each season – it might be the most expensive 2D animated show on TV today.
What does Fox have on tap in terms of animated series? The Simpsons, Family Guy, Bob’s Burgers, and now Son of Zorn (half animated). Even if you don’t count Zorn, that’s 3 solid series that are well proven. Fox also still has American Dad which is now producing originals for TBS and might likely at this point not make it back to Fox broadcast. None of those shows are ready to take over for the Simpsons, a show with no signs of stopping (except for the cringeworthy talent negotiations every few years).
In order to have a replacement show for the Simpsons, you need to be iconic and translate globally. Being iconic will put some merchandise money in your pocket, and hopefully help it go viral a few times so you get lots of eyeballs. Being iconic will also help you translate to go global. ‘Global’ strategy should be in every conversation on every project that has a big budget.
Why talk about the global market? Because it is crucially important here. The Simpsons is currently seen in over 180 countries worldwide AND has merchandise in each of those countries. That means that almost all the people with money on this planet are potentially watching the Simpsons. One statistic reported the Simpsons is airing every single minute of the day, every day of the week somewhere on the planet.
If you want to have a glimpse of how much money this show makes, look at how much they are paying the talent. Each principal player actor makes around $300k per episode. With all six principals in an episode, you can rack up almost $2m in talent fees alone and you haven’t started drawing yet!
How much money do you have to make to rationalize $2m in talent fees? The answer is A LOT. That coupled with a big, expensive writers room and decent salaries on the animation production side after 20+ years, each episode for this show, this show is a juggernaut for Fox.
Some other random Simpsons facts relating to $$$:
• Matt Groening has an estimated net worth of $500 million
• The Simpsons series has generated over $5.7 billion in advertising revenue
• Merchandise over the years has generated over $4.7 billion
• Syndication revenue is over $1 billion over the life of the franchise
If you’re still getting ratings, ad dollars and merch money AND you can continue to feasibly make the show, it’s going to be a no brainer to keep going. Maybe that means they don’t need a series to replace it anytime soon. I love to see a good success story, so here’s to the Simpsons and their crew for setting a new long distance record for TV series. I hope you guys (and gals) keep it going.