Everything is coming up Milhouse

Soon you can (legally) stream the Simpsons—but there’s a catch

January 15, 2014
January 15, 2014

PASADENA, California — Throughout The Simpsons’ 24(!) seasons on the air, it has never been possible to stream FOX’s hit animated series online (legally, anyway), but that all changes—permanently—this summer.

Starting in August, all 530 episodes of The Simpsons’ will finally be available for US streaming via FXNOW, the just-launched VOD app for FX Networks (comprised of FX, FXM and upstart FXX). As Homer would say, “Woo hoo!”

FXNOW will also create a separate Simpsons-specific app which, FX Networks CEO John Landgraf said Tuesday Jan. 13, at the Television Critics Association winter press tour, will be “a comprehensive, beautifully-curated digital library of all things Simpsons.” While FX will announce more details about the Simpsons app closer to August, Landgraf shared some new specifics in an interview with Quartz.

The Simpsons content will be curated in a separate app, which Landgraf said will be “integrated with and linked through” the FXNOW app. The Simpsons app will contain a multitude of Simpsons clips as well as full episodes (all 530 episodes will be available at all times, not cycled through at various intervals), all of which will “be infinitely cross-referenced and sortable and searchable in various different ways,” Landgraf said.

But there’s a catch: the content will only be available via the app and FXNetworks.com to authenticated subscribers (like other streaming network apps, including HBO GO, Watch ABC and USA NOW). And right now, FXNOW only has deals with about 50% of television providers nationally, including AT&T U-verse, Cablevision, and Comcast. While Landgraf said additional agreements will be made this year, he was unable to estimate what percentage of subscribers will be covered by August.

In addition to the streaming rights, FX Networks shelled out as much as $1 billion in the Simpsons deal to give a shot in the arm to its fledgling FXX channel (rebranded from Fox Sports in September), which gets exclusive cable rights to The Simpsons in August. Landgraf admitted FXX was still searching for an its own identity apart from sibling FX, a process which could take “several years.”

The Simpsons deal reportedly stretches for a decade, by which time, Landgraf predicts, “a significant portion of the advertising revenue we earn at that point” will come from online and mobile revenue as opposed to television. “But it’s going to be a very long, bumpy road over the next 10 years to get from here to there.” Still, the journey is going to be a lot easier with Homer, Marge, Bart, Maggie and Lisa at the helm.

Jason was the former TV editor for People magazine. We welcome your comments at ideas@qz.com

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