Twentieth Television is prepping to take The Simpsons into cable syndication, with the sale expected to rake in $1 billion or more for 21st Century Fox.
The show, headed into its 25th season on Fox, has been in syndication on TV stations since 1994. In the original deal, stations agreed to pay cash until the show went off the network. Since then, News Corp.—now 21st Century Fox—has been unable to further monetize the show on cable and subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) platforms.
Stations will have to allow for changes in their original deals for the show to go to cable, although those changes remain unclear. Previously, it was thought that The Simpsons would have to end its run on Fox to free it up for cable; that may no longer be the case.
The Simpsons remains strong on Fox, where it’s likely to be renewed. Nets that could bid include News Corp.’s FXX, a youth-targeted comedy network that will premiere in September, as well as TBS, Comedy Central and NBCU’s USA and Esquire. Whether the deal will include an SVOD run remains to be seen; sources say the first push will be on cable.
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