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The Real Reason ‘The Simpsons’ Remains a Cultural Institution

Traditional Ratings Continue to Slip Significantly on Fox

One of the mysteries of television is why certain series never seem to get bad press. NBC drama “Grimm,” for example, has never been a hit on Friday. “Shark Tank” on ABC is not the monster success we are led to believe. “Elementary” on CBS is modest at best. And sophomore dramedy “Jane the Virgin” on The CW barely registers on the Nielsen ratings. But you wouldn’t know that from reading the press. The assumption is that they are all big hits, when in reality they are far from it.

These are only a few examples. The biggest one is the perceived ongoing success of veteran Fox series “The Simpsons.” It’s continued to skirt unflattering press, even though I’m willing to bet you haven’t regularly watched the show on the network in years. After 27 seasons and almost 600 episodes, this cultural institution continues to plummet in the ratings.

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Written by Marc Berman

Marc Berman

Marc Berman has been writing professionally since 1999 and is the author of weekly column “Mr. Television” for Campaign US (www.campaignlive.com). Most recently, Berman was the creator and Editor-in-Chief of website and newsletter TV Media Insights for Cross MediaWorks. From 1999-2011, he was the Senior Editor for Mediaweek and has also written for The New York Daily News, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Emmy Magazine, among others. Berman has also appeared on “Entertainment Tonight,” “Extra,” “Access Hollywood,” “Inside Edition,” “The CBS Evening News,” E!, CNN, CNBC, Fox News and MSNBC.

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  1. Kudos for calling the low ratings of a number of media darlings. 🙂

    It’s something you rarely read.

    On The Simpsons, the 2016-2017 season was already renewed last year with the two season deal, that made it even faster… 😉

    I do disagree on the “logic” of a lot of those renewals and whether they are well thought out.

    Renewing flops like Jane The Virgin because they are critical darlings is not a good idea if you want to survive.

    Also there is no way Elementary got a $3 million per episode deal from WGN and Hulu (I guess that’s where the “valued at” comes in as we never know who did the valuing and if it was in any way accurate!)

    In the meantime, CBS has lost what used to be a golden slot that made it a lot of money on Thursdays at 10pm, but nobody ever seems to want to talk about those losses.

    Grimm keeps being renewed because FOX has to renew shows or the executives risk the owners coming down on them for an embarrassing season (apparently awful ratings and the attendant loss of income doesn’t seem to perturb them). The average age of its viewers is just a convenient excuse in proudly ageist Hollywood and the relationship between the company making the show and the network is a much more salient point, as it is with all things Seth MacFarlane given that he has only ever delivered flops to FOX…