Two months after Twentieth Century Fox Television began accepting bids for the off-net cable rights to the longest-running scripted series in TV history, a corporate sibling has emerged the victor.
FXX on Friday confirmed that it has nailed down the exclusive cable, VOD and non-linear rights to all 24 extant seasons, or 530 episodes, of The Simpsons. While financial terms were not disclosed, this is believed to be the biggest off-network deal ever—worth an estimated $800 million to $1 billion over the course of the next decade.
While it has been syndicated on broadcast stations for the last 20 years, The Simpsons has never before appeared on a national cable network. Per terms of the deal, FXX can begin stripping out episodes of Matt Groening’s landmark animated series in August 2014.
The following month, FXX and the soon-to-be-launched mobile app FXNOW will have access to the 25th season of The Simpsons. Those episodes will become available just as Season 26 debuts on Fox.
“The Simpsons is indisputably one of the greatest shows in television history,” said John Landgraf, CEO, FX Networks and FX Productions. “We are honored to have it associated with FX Networks and FXX.”
Landgraf allowed that the deal only came about “a very long, hard and complicated negotiation,” before crediting FX Networks president of program strategy Chuck Saftler for getting the job done. Chris Antola, svp of strategic programming, also helped hammer out the deal.
Other media conglomerates that were said to be interested in acquiring The Simpsons package include Time Warner, which owns TBS and Adult Swim, and Viacom (Comedy Central, Nick at Nite).
The acquisition provides a substantial anchor franchise for FXX, which launched on Sept. 2. (At present, the network's marquee series are FX transplants It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The League.) The sheer volume of Simpsons episodes is such that FXX could quite literally air the entire series run for 52 weeks and never repeat a single episode.
In its first month of operation, the comedy-centric spinoff improved on its predecessor Fox Soccer’s 18-34 deliveries by a multiple of 10, thereby immediately establishing itself as a top 40 network in the demo.
FXX is available in 72 million homes, up 36 percent from Fox Soccer’s distribution peak (53 million).