Cowabunga! To launch the first run of veteran animated series “The Simpsons” on cable in August, FXX intends to start things with a bang: A 12-day marathon of the series’ 552-episode run.
“It will be the longest continuous marathon in the history of television,” said John Landgraf, chief executive of FX Networks, at an upfront presentation held Wednesday in New York. An app is expected to debut in coming weeks and while executives at the presentation suggested the name “Simpsons World” had been bandied about, FX Networks spokesman John Solberg said a name for the digital outlet was “not formalized yet.” The app would be distinct from the FXNow mobile-viewing application already available.
“Think of it as a comprehensive, beautifully curated digital library of all things ‘Simpsons,’” Landgraf said . “I’m absolutely blown away by what I’ve seen. This could well be the best app I have ever seen.”
There’s reason to give Bart, Lisa, Maggie and the rest a big push. Sale of the series to FXX was valued at more than $750 million over the life of the deal – an astronomical price for syndication. The terms of the pact includes making the vast “Simpsons” archive available via video on demand on the FXNow viewing app. The show has never before been available in wide fashion online or on any SVOD venue.
Landgraf said the unit, which comprises FX, FXX and FXM, would raise the number of original series across FX and FXX to 20 from 11. Among the series slated to debut in coming months are “The Strain,” a sci-fi horror series based on work from Guillermo del Toro, author Chuck Hogan and writer-producer Carlton Cuse; “Tyrant,” a drama set in the Middle East supervised by “Homeland” producer Howard Gordon; “The Comedians,” featuring Billy Crystal and Josh Gad: and comedy series for FXX starring Tracy Morgan that will have long-running “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” as its lead-in.
Landgraf touted the recent performance of the second season of “The Americans”on FX and said, “I expect we’ll have a season-three announcement soon.” Executives are still waiting for current runs of comedies “Chozen” and “Legit” to end before making a decision on additional orders for those programs.
Lou LaTorre, president of ad sales for Fox Cable, said his team had just started making outreach on ad opportunities for “The Simpsons,” but indicated interest was strong. The company could seek to align advertisers with thematic runs in “The Simpsons,” he suggested, picking out holidays or appearances by athletes, to help sponsors find a relevant episode or series of episodes alongside which they could make a pitch.
(Updated, 11:16 AM PST)