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‘The Simpsons’ Eyed for Billion-Dollar Cable Syndication Sale

Deal wouldn't trigger cancellation of long-running toon

The Simpsons” may be headed to cable for the first time, as Twentieth Century Fox TV’s syndie arm plans to shop the toon’s vast library to cable nets in the near future.

A source confirmed to Variety that 20th TV is eyeing cable syndication deals that would not affect the existing syndication deals with TV stations already established for the Matt Groening comedy, which currently is 24 seasons deep on Fox. TV Guide first reported the potential sale.

With 500+ episodes of “The Simpsons” stocked up in 20th TV’s library, the move to cable would be a lucrative and long-awaited transition for the series that could bring in excess of $1 billion for News Corp. given each episode could cost a cable buyer over $1 million.

Another News Corp. cable net, FX Networks, is a likely buyer, perhaps for its comedy sibling net FXX. But Turner Broadcasting and Viacom could also be looking to buy the property.

However, unlike most syndication deals, the “Simpsons”-cable syndication does not spell doom for the program as a whole.

A source at Fox tells Variety that the net has no plans in the near term to cancel the animated skein, leaving “The Simpsons” potentially syndicated on both broadcast and cable, while still rolling out new episodes on Fox.

“The Simpsons,” which debuted on Fox in 1989, has been syndicated on exclusively broadcast TV stations since the early ’90s.

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