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As the Simpsons head into their 33rd season have they lost viewers?

This is too upsetting to comment on.

The Simpsons is heading for a 33rd and 34th season. The iconic animated comedy, which is already the longest running primetime scripted TV show in the US, will be airing its 700th episode on March 21st, more than 31 years since its first episode aired — all the way back in 1989.

‍The golden age is gone

‍Although its longevity is remarkable, the popularity of The Simpsons has declined substantially during its ~700 episodes. This chart, inspired by a great article from Todd Schneider from 2016, shows that back in its early seasons The Simpsons would regularly pull in 20 million households watching (back when Nielsen reported households, not viewers). Its most recent season is averaging closer to 2 million viewers.

It's important context to note that this chart for pretty much any longstanding TV show — including the most popular — would look quite similar. More choice, and the enormous cultural change from streaming, means that fewer people are likely to tune in at primetime to a traditional TV channel, regardless of what is being shown.

In the case of The Simpsons, data from IMDB does confirm that the lower viewership numbers have come with lower average scores in reviews as well. The Simpsons may have lost some of its early magic, but it's no easy feat to keep quality high for 32 years. If we're still making these charts in 2053, we'd be pretty proud too.

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