The Simpsons is an American animated comedy franchise whose eponymous family consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. The Simpsons were created by cartoonist Matt Groening for a series of animated shorts that debuted on The Tracey Ullman Show on Fox on April 19, 1987. After a three-season run, the sketch was developed into The Simpsons, a half-hour prime time show that was an early hit for Fox, becoming the first Fox series to land in the Top 30 ratings in a season (1989–1990). The popularity of The Simpsons has made it a billion-dollar merchandising and media franchise. Alongside the television series, the characters of the show have been featured in a variety of media, including books, comic books, a magazine, musical releases and video games. Since December 14, 2017, The Simpsons is part of The Walt Disney Company.
The Simpsons Movie, a feature-length film, was released in 2007 and was the eighth highest-grossing film of the year. A variety of merchandise, including T-shirts, DVDs, board games and action figures has been released. The Simpsons merchandise has sold well, generating $2 billion in revenue during the first 14 months of sales. In 2003, about 500 companies around the world were licensed to use The Simpsons characters in their advertising. In 2008, $750 million worth of The Simpsons merchandise was purchased worldwide. Peter Byrne, Fox executive vice-president of licensing and merchandising, called The Simpsons "without doubt the biggest licensing entity that Fox has had, full stop, I would say from either TV or film."