For three decades, The Simpsons has been one of the most iconic franchises to come from Fox, airing every episode on their network after spinning off from The Tracy Ullman Show. And despite the impending purchase by Disney, it seems like New Fox will fight to keep the animated series.
While speaking at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman revealed their plans to keep The Simpsons on the network after the acquisition takes place.
"Simpsons is so much a part of the brand," Walden said. "There’s been such an incredible halo effect of that show and the other animated series that are on our Sunday night. There are no plans for them to go anywhere other than FOX.
"We have a couple years of episodes already in progress on The Simpsons. So down the line, what kind of decision is made I can’t really speak to. But for the foreseeable future, there’s so much upside and benefit to having a great Emmy Award winning, smart, provocative, quality show, that there’s no consideration of not ordering more Simpsons."
Of course, with Disney's purchase, they could try to move the long-running animated series to a network they own, such as ABC. But the Fox TV heads aren't going to let such a major change happen without a fight.
"As long as we’ve all been in the business, networks have licensed shows they don’t have ownership of." Walden continued. "The Simpsons generates lots of revenue and opportunities off network through consumer products and otherwise, and I feel confident that Disney and FOX are going to find a way to both have an interest in that show, and I anticipate it continuing to stay on the FOX network."
The Simpsons has long been in syndication, so it's not uncommon to see episodes air on different regional affiliates. But given the series' long run on FOX, it would be very strange to see new episodes air on any other network.
But that's a choice Disney executives will make once they have to cross that bridge. And it seems like they'll have some leverage over FOX, who will want to keep their animated staple where it's flourished for over 30 seasons.