LOS ANGELES — Best. App. Ever. That’s the early consensus from many in attendance at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour as FX unveiled “Simpsons World,” its upcoming “ultimate Simpsons digital experience” that will contain all 552 episodes of The Simpsons, along with every other detail you’d ever want to know about the show.
When it launches in October, “Simpsons World” will be accessible via FXNOW, FX’s on-demand streaming app, and online at SimpsonsWorld.com. It’s part of the company’s exclusive cable and streaming deal, worth as much as $1 billion, to acquire all 25 seasons of The Simpsons, which will begin airing Aug. 21 on FXX.
“Simpsons World,” which Landgraf previewed for Quartz earlier this year, is designed to equally appeal to both casual and die-hard Simpsons fans. “I think there’s no reason to do anything else but do this app 24 hours a day,” said Simpsons executive producer Al Jean.
He’s not kidding. Here are five reasons “Simpsons World” will change your life—and one reason it might not:
Until now, there has never been a way to (legally) stream previous Simpsons seasons. FXX is kicking off its Simpsons run by airing each episode (and The Simpsons Movie) chronologically in a 12-day, round-the-clock marathon. Yet every episode will be available instantly at all times on “Simpsons World,” regardless of which episodes are currently airing on FXX. “Having a space where all of the episodes can be available simultaneously is key,” said FX Networks CEO John Landgraf. (The Simpsons Movie will be available “intermittently,” said FX’s COO and president of program strategy Chuck Saftler.)
Viewers can browse episodes chronologically through each season, and Saftler said he is also working on acquiring the original Simpsons shorts that aired during Fox’s The Tracey Ullman Show back in the late ’80s. There will also be a randomizer function that allows you to “spin the bottle and get any episode you want,” said Stephanie Gibbons, president of marketing and on-air promotions, who demoed “Simpsons World” for reporters.
“Our goal really was to deliver the deepest digital archive of any TV show ever,” said Gibbons, and “Simpsons World” appears to be just that. The site is inspired by Simpsons World book, creator Matt Groening’s 2010 compendium of all things Simpsons, and integrates that immersive, extensive content into the site, offering deep-dives into each episode, packed with inside jokes and trivia. Each character is broken out with a full biography and appropriate subsections (Sideshow Bob’s includes a list of all the characters he has attempted to murder). Fans of, say, the show’s opening chalkboard gags, can find them all grouped into one place. “There are a million ways to slice and dice the content,” said Gibbons.
The Simpsons, said Landgraf, is “the only television show ever created that has something funny to say about everything.” And its Google-powered search engine makes it easy to locate for your favorite Simpsons clip or quote (“To alcohol! The cause of—and solution to—all of life’s problems.”) and share it via social media.
People will be able to chart their own progress on the site—much like a video game’s completion percentage — and get “rewarded” with donuts (Homer’s favorite), which they can use to uncover additional rare, behind the scenes content and “explore elements that won’t be available to general civilians,” said Saftler.
“I don’t want to over-promise, but I think this website will provide you with affordable healthcare!” said Jean.
Now for the bad news: not everyone will be able to access “Simpsons World.” For starters, Chuck Saftler confirms to Quartz that FX’s Simpsons and “Simpsons World” deal is “only for the United States.” And even there, “Simpsons World,” as part of FXNOW, will require cable authentication. Currently, only 60% of FX’s subscribers have access to FXNOW (bad news for DirecTV and Verizon FiOS customers, but Saftler expects to get those companies on board “in a little more than a year”).
For those without authentication, “You’ll be able to access aspects of it,” said Saftler. “Clips will be available without authentication. Full episodes will not be.” D’oh!