Could Homer Simpson get his own channel?
Don't laugh, it is one idea News Corp. Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey threw out when speaking Tuesday at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media Communications & Entertainment Conference in Beverly Hills.
Noting that "The Simpsons" shows no sign of slowing down as it prepares to start its 23rd season on News Corp.'s Fox network, Carey said the company is starting to have internal discussions about how to create additional revenue streams for the animated hit that goes beyond reruns on TV stations and DVD sales.
Any effort at creating a platform just for "The Simpsons" may have to wait for the show to stop producing new episodes. Because the show is still in production after more than two decades, the rerun deals done years ago are still in effect. Once the show ends, so-called second cycle sales of repeat episodes can be sold. Although some shows might seem stale after 20 years, "The Simpsons" continues to be a solid performer.
Carey said there have been a "number of meetings" to determine how to capitalize on its library of episodes of "The Simpsons" and he mentioned a digital channel featuring nothing but Homer and the gang as being a possibility. Carey said it is incumbent on the company to take advantage of a show that is "unique in television with a volume too that is unprecedented."
The rest of the session with Carey offered little in new headlines. He again reiterated that Fox News is undervalued compared to most other cable networks and said that after ESPN, it has the most value to distributors.
The topic of the phone hacking scandal at News Corp., which led to the closing of the company's News of the World tabloid and has put a cloud over company Chairman Rupert Murdoch and his son, deputy chief operating officer James Murdoch, did not come up for discussion, at least in the portion that was streamed on the Internet.
-- Joe Flint
Photo: Homer Simpson. Credit: 20th Century Fox