11:14am PT by Michael O'Connell
FXX Readies 'Simpsons' Roll Out With Sprawling App, 12-Day Marathon
The Simpsons won't be making a quiet entrance on FXX. After last year's landmark deal to get the off-network rights to air the Fox cartoon, and its 552-episode catalog, the cable network has invested in an elaborate online library for the series — tied in to its own streamer, FXNow.
"I think this is how people who love The Simpsons want to have it," FX Networks CEO John Landgraf told reporters at the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Monday.
Joined by FX president of marketing and on-air promotions Stephanie Gibbons, FX also used the opportunity to walk through the catalog, affectionately dubbed Simpsons World after the book by Matt Groening.
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"Our goal was to create the deepest digital archive of any show ever," said Gibbons, scrolling through the seemingly infinite ways to digest Simpsons episodes, clips, quotes and character profiles. The app will also allow users to chart their own progress, tallying which content has been consumed. "We're not trying to out-Facebook Facebook. This is just a personalized experience."
That experience is not for everyone. Simpsons World, like FXNow, requires cable subscription authentication. And FXNow is thus far only available to 60 percent of FX's subscriber base. RCN and Verizon are two notable exclusions, though FX COO and president of program strategy Chuck Saftler said he was optimistic about closing that gap within the year.
Looking back at the negotiations and the bid to acquire the 20th Century Fox TV property, Saftler also said the app proved paramount in landing the nearly $1 billion rights: "They [said it] would be open to our ask, as long as we didn't just load the episodes into generic on-demand folders."
Another yet-to-be-determined component is the early Simpsons content as it first aired on The Tracey Ullman Show. "We are very much working on that right now," added Saftler. "Matt has an open mind to that; he controls the rights to that. We're going in a very positive direction."
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Simpsons World does not have an official launch date, though Landgraf was optimistic that it would happen in October. And in the meantime, FXX's rollout will get a big push on TV with promos and a massive 12-day marathon.
Each one of The Simpsons' 552 episodes and the 2007 feature film will air, in chronological order, in a 12-day marathon that starts Aug. 21 and runs 24 hours a day until Sept. 1.
Simpsons showrunner Al Jean, also on hand to discuss the partnership, seemed more than enthusiastic about the whole roll out.
"The great thing for me is that it doesn't tell you what to do," said Jean. "At least for me, there's no reason to do anything else but this app for 24 hours a day."