Bart and Lisa are finally coming to cable.
FXX, the new youth-oriented channel recently launched by 21st Century Fox, has bought rerun rights to the long-running cartoon series, bringing the show to a cable channel for the first time in its 24-year history.
Reruns of “The Simpsons” have long been available on broadcast television. What is most significant about the deal is that it will make available for the first time all of the more than 500 episodes of the animated sitcom on demand, through FXX’s forthcoming mobile streaming app FXNOW.
Executives at 21st Century Fox’s FX Networks unit, which includes FXX, see the availability of all episodes as adding to the value of pay television at a time when it faces intensifying competition from the lines of Netflix Inc.
“I think a consumer has a very different perception of value when they have one piece of content available with their subscription versus when they have thousands of pieces of content available,” said John Landgraf, chief executive of FX Networks. He added that FXX is providing distributors “with a huge opportunity and we hope they’ll exploit it to the fullest.”
The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but people familiar with the matter said the studio, Twentieth Century Fox Television, was asking the rough equivalent of $1.5 million per episode when cast what one channel executive described as a “wide net” for a buyer. The final price was lower, the people said.
That wide net was important because both FXX and Twentieth Century Fox Television are owned by 21st Century Fox. While most of the money being paid for the rights is therefore shifting from one division of the company to another, there are some individuals with rights to share in the syndication profits, including the show’s original producers James L. Brooks and Matt Groening.
FXX described the process in its announcement of the deal as “a vigorous bidding war.”
Until this summer, 21st Century Fox was part of the same company as The Wall Street Journal’s owner, News Corp.
Episodes of The Simpsons will be available on FXX beginning in August of 2014. FXX and its online streaming app, FXNow, will also get subsequent seasons of “The Simpsons” as new seasons appear on Fox broadcast stations. While the length of the deal was not disclosed, one person familiar with the matter described it as longer than five years.
Source: Wsj.com, 11/15/13