Twenty four years after its premiere, The Simpsons is finally going to get an off-network syndication sale on cable. Twentieth Television, the syndication arm of 20th Century Fox TV, is preparing to take out the monster property to cable networks. The plan, first reported by TVGuide, would allow the longest-running entertainment series currently on TV for the first time to air simultaneously in cable and broadcast syndication. When The Simpsons, a rare broadcast animated series, was sold in broadcast syndication in 1993 as cable TV was still in its infancy, the stations that bought it were in position to secure exclusivity while the show was on Fox’s air. Other series with similar deals are long gone, but The Simpsons has kept going, periodically raising the issue of lost revenue from a potential cable sale in a time where a combo broadcast and cable off-network sales is the norm. I hear Twentieth TV’s pacts with broadcast stations have been gradually tweaked over the years to allow the carving out of a cable window that will not impact the broadcast syndie run. A cable sale, which could fetch as much as $1 billion for the 530 episodes and counting, also won’t have an impact on Fox’s future plans for The Simpsons, which can continue on the network while airing in broadcast and cable off-network syndication. The plan to take The Simpsons out to cable networks comes on the heels of Twentieth Television’s division selling 20th Century Fox TV shows off-network getting put under 20th TV chairmen Dana Walden and Gary Newman. All main cable networks that air animation — including TBS, Adult Swim and FX — are expected to look at The Simpsons, which News Corp COO Chase Carey once envisioned of getting its own cable channel. It now could be a cornerstone for another new News Corp cable channel, the upcoming FXX.
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