The Simpsons is one of several intellectual properties owned by 21st Century Fox that Disney will acquire, once the recently approved deal between Disney and 21st Century Fox is final, but Fox Broadcasting Company co-CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman intend for the animated sitcom, soon to enter its 30th season, to stay on its original home network.
The actual logistics involving the division of assets after the acquisition is completed has been a point of confusion for some following the news. While Disney (who beat out Comcast) will indeed own 21st Century Fox's film and television production companies, along with all of their creative properties, the actual Fox television channel will be under a new subsidiary separate from Disney, what the company calls New Fox. This subsidiary will include Fox's sports and news channels.
Per IGN, despite the production company behind The Simpsons soon to be a part of Disney, the CEOs of the Fox network stated that the network plans to continue airing Matt Groening's celebrated show. Speaking at Fox's Television Critics Association press tour, Fox CEO Dana Walden declared: "There are no plans for them to go anywhere other than FOX." Walden calls the Sunday night block of animated shows that includes Family Guy and Bob's Burgers a "halo effect."
In elaborating how Disney and Fox would arrange this, Walden mentions that several television shows are produced by different companies than their network. The CEO specifically cites The Big Bang Theory, which, despite airing on CBS, is produced by Warner Bros. Television. It's also worth noting that a Disney/Fox deal for a TV show isn't out of the ordinary, as ABC's long-running comedy series Modern Family is actually a 20th Century Fox TV show licensed by Disney. Continuing, Walden says: "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."
With those precedents of networks airing other companies' productions in mind, the idea of The Simpsons staying on Fox seems like a no-brainer. Walden and Newman are likely only receiving such questions because of the still-nebulous and unspecific nature of the Disney-21st Century Fox deal. With the asset acquistion still far from being concluded, all outside parties are still speculating on how Disney will handle Fox properties, specifically where they will end up. It is hard to imagine The Simpsons airing on the Disney-owned ABC instead - that network is not nearly as synonymous with edgy and adult-orientated animated shows the same way Fox is. It is likely that Walden is only expressing bullishness on keeping The Simpsons to let the press know that the future home for The Simpsons has not been finalized, but if there is any conflict, Fox is ready for a battle.
And it is reasonable that The Simpsons is the only show in this conversation; it is certainly more revered and popular than any of the aforementioned animated shows that Fox also airs. Assuming that the show remains on Fox, the experience of viewers at home will remain uninterrupted, blissfully unaware that its fate on Fox was put into question in the first place.
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