After 23 seasons, it’s not surprising that production costs for The Simpsons are high, but could those costs do the series in, or is the studio that produces the series (20th Century Fox) just posturing in public during negotiations for a 24th season. 20th says it hopes it can strike a deal with the talent but that it can’t “produce future seasons under its current financial model.” The impasse is between the six principal voice actors and the studio. According to The Daily Beast, late last week the actors submitted a proposal that would amount to a 30% pay cut, but the the studio is insisting on a 45% pay cut.
While the gap between 30% and 45% is large on a percentage basis, all other things being equal it seems unthinkable that they won’t work something out. But without knowing the overall economics its hard to say. While The Simpsons surely is lucrative in syndication, it doesn’t follow a traditional syndication model that includes nationally sold advertising — the local channels that license The Simpsons in syndication sell all the commercial spots and take the advertising revenue. As a result, the ratings for The Simpsons don’t appear in the national syndicated ratings we regularly see. Last week, The Simpsons tied for 29th with adults 18-49 among all broadcast network primetime programs with a 3.0 adults 18-49 rating.