"Simpsons", "Survivor" renewed

Enough doom and gloom! Time for some happy news (if you can call it that…)

Two of television’s most durable franchises received pacts ensuring their future for some time to come.

While this news actually became “official” when they started work on next season’s episodes last July, Fox announced Wednesday the renewal of The Simpsons for seasons 21 and 22, making it the longest-running prime-time scripted show in television history surpassing CBS’ “Gunsmoke”, which ran from 1955 to 1975. The Simpsons debuted as a Christmas special on December 17, 1989.

The first HD episode handily won its Sunday night timeslot among adults 18-49, the program’s main demo. The program is still a powerhouse in key male demos.

While The Simpsons has has now passed the historic threshold for prime-time, many other current programs has been longer – NBC’s Meet the Press has been on the air since 1947, 60 Minutes since 1967, and numerous soap operas on the networks’ current daytime lineup have been on the air since the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Don’t forget some syndicated product have long runs as well – Wheel of Fortune is currently in its 26th season in syndication (34 years if you count its NBC daytime run, which began in 1975); Jeopardy! is in its 25th; The Oprah Winfrey Show is in its 23rd; and Inside Edition is in its 21st.

Soul Train is currently the longest-running first-run syndication series in history, but the program stopped producing episodes in 2006, its 35th season, while American Bandstand had 32 seasons under its belt with 30 of those seasons on ABC (1957-87), one season in first-run (1987-88), and another on cable’s USA network (1989). Not counting toward the total is the series’ first five seasons airing exclusively on WFIL-TV (now WPVI) in Philadelphia.

Survivor gets picked up as well

Meanwhile, CBS has renewed its reality franchise Survivor for its 19th and 20th editions. Survivor premiered on May 31, 2000 and the August 23, 2000 finale drew more than 50 million viewers, the most of any show in August (a traditional low homes-using-television month) since the series finale of The Fugitive aired in 1967. Survivor moved to Thursday nights in February 2001 and has thrived there ever since, bringing down young adult demo powerhouse Friends in the process.

Survivor brought younger viewers (especially those in the adults 18-49 demo) to CBS, shredding its image as a network exclusively for older viewers. The most recent episode drew more than 13 million viewers, and dominated its time slot among the 18-49 demo.