The Simpsons has been renewed for two more seasons, preserving FOX's long-running cartoon for a few more years.
The Simpsons is safe on FOX until at least spring of 2021, the network announced on Wednesday. FOX picked up the animated series for Seasons 31 and 32. The Simpsons is already one of TV's longest-running series, and this will take it even further.
FOX had to work out a reduced licensing fee for The Simpsons with 20th Century Fox Television, where the show is produced, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The series' future was up in the air considering FOX's imminent merger with Disney, but even that could not stop this comedy institution from carrying on.
While fans may not worry about a show like The Simpsons, there was reportedly concern with the network, with some at Fox feeling that they might lose the show if they could not get a reduced licensing fee. New FOX boss Charlie Collier fought hard for the discount, noting that The Simpsons is still responsible for a lot of the network's profits.
The two-season pick-up may also have been a strategic decision. By investing in the show for two years, FOX has given its soon-to-be owners at Disney plenty of time to observe the show's performance so that they can make an informed decision on what to do with the series.
Even as it stretches beyond three decades, The Simpsons is a steady performer in Nielsen ratings. The show currently has a 1.9 average rating in the key demographic of adults ages 18-49. It often beats out the competition in its time slot on Sunday nights, here it is up against America's Funniest Home Videos and God Friended Me in the current line-up.
Beyond that, The Simpsons carries a kind of symbolic, cultural significance that network executives cannot ignore. A show that has lasted for 30 years has many generations of fans. Lapsed fans may tune in and out, watch a few episodes per season or binge the whole thing when it arrives on a streaming service later.
Some fans may not even watch the show anymore, yet they would be furious to hear it was over. The Simpsons is a cultural staple that has persisted through controversies many times over, and it shows no signs of stopping now.
Fox is reportedly dealing with similar licensing fees and contract negotiations with other shows, including its other adult animated series Family Guy. There is no telling what properties might be lost in the companies ongoing merger with Disney.
The Simpsons airs on Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.