Netflix—quite possibly humankind's greatest achievement since indoor plumbing—has done a great deal for its customers. It revived the Internet's long-dead, favorite sitcom, Arrested Development. It's created new original programming gems like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black. It's allowed viewers to catch up on current, critically acclaimed hits by binge-watching Mad Men, Breaking Bad and Scandal. It's offered older shows like The West Wing and criminally neglected shows like Freaks and Geeks to an audience that might not have been old enough to appreciate them during their original runs.
But, for everything Netflix has brought to the table, it hasn't been able to offer its subscribers the longest-running primetime television series of all time, The Simpsons.
Luckily for fans of The Simpsons, though, FXX—the new comedy branch of the FX channel—has struck a deal to land all 530 episodes from the series' first 24 seasons (and the 44 installments from its current season and any eps from potential future seasons).
Before getting into the financials, it's worth looking at how this agreement will affect how viewers get The Simpsons. By paying so much for the show, FXX has taken The Simpsons off the subscription VOD market: It's unlikely the show will be popping up in your Netflix or Hulu queue anytime this decade. What is likely, however, is that you'll have to watch ads if you want to binge-watch a full season of The Simpsons on FXNOW. FX chief John Landgraf is very much committed to the model of advertiser-supported TV, and FXNOW is designed to be available only to viewers who already have a subscription to FX via their cable or satellite company. It's possible, of course, that FX might make FXX available as a stand-alone service or offer commercial-free viewing for a premium. But if so, it would seem to mark a big departure from Landgraf's philosophy. An FX rep declined to comment on specifics surrounding The Simpsons' arrival on FXNOW, including whether or not all 24 seasons will be offered to consumers at once. (FXX has the right to do so if it wants.) Expect the network to reveal more specifics next month at a launch event for the app.