Television history was made today when FXX signed an absolutely massive deal with 20th Century Fox Television for the rights to air animation staple The Simpsons in syndication for at least the next ten years. FXX, a recent spin-off channel of FX (also owned by Fox), will pay approximately $750 million spread across the next decade in accordance with the terms of the deal, which also grants them the ability to stream past seasons of The Simpsons on their soon-to-launch video-on-demand app FXNow.
The deal, which includes over 500 episodes of the perennial program, is the largest off-network sale of all time. It will go into effect this August when FXX begins airing episodes from the first 24 seasons of The Simpsons. When the 26th season premieres in 2014, FXX will then get the go-ahead to air episodes from the currently airing 25th season. This programming model will continue for the next ten years.
How exactly FXX plans to deal with putting 530 episodes of The Simpsons up for streaming on FXNow remains unclear (if Netflix currently tempts binge-watching, FXNow allowing access to all of the episodes at once would likely lead to a deadly phenomenon I can only describe as blackout-viewing), but the network does have a plan in mind for airing the seasons on TV. Variety reports that the current idea is to “stack six to eight episodes on one or two nights, probably in thematic packages, rather than air them across the week as in traditional syndication.”
The deal is the result of more than a month of negotiations between FX’s Chuck Saftler and Chris Antola and Twentieth TV’s Steve MacDonald and Greg Meidel. Saftler, officially known as the President of Program Strategy and Chief Operating Officer for FX Networks, was particularly instrumental in setting up the syndication package. He stated:
The Simpsons is the crown jewel of television and the longest-running, most successful comedy series in television history, which is testament to the amazing talents of Jim Brooks, Matt Groening, Al Jean, and the Gracie Films team. This is a historic deal for FXX and FX Networks and I don’t believe there will ever be another one like it.
With that price tag, they’d better hope not. The Simpsons, which began airing in 1989, is widely considered to be one of the greatest shows of all time, and it is certainly one of the most enduring. So, it seems fitting that the syndication package came at such a high cost, though FXX will likely be cooling it on the acquisitions for a little while. This new deal also stands as a grand gesture of support from FOX for one of its flagship programs, so it’s safe to say that we’ll be enjoying the misadventures of Homer and co. for decades to come.