Deal comes despite China's growing restrictions on foreign content
The multi-year deal includes the show’s latest season, which bows Sept. 28 on Fox. The cartoon will be subtitled in Mandarin.
“Sohu is the pioneer in the industry that offers premium and licensed video programs to our audience in China. The introduction of ‘The Simpsons,’ a household name in the U.S., will further enrich our users’ choice of the best American content when they come to our platform. This deal once again demonstrated our commitment in bringing the best experience to our users and tireless efforts to enhance our competitive edges in the industry,” said Charles Zhang, chairman-CEO of Sohu.com Inc.
“Simpsons” exec producer Al Jean had a typically irreverent observation: “Woo hoo! Now we can reveal Springfield is actually in Guangdong province.”
The leading online video platforms in China are all involved in a race for content as they become a significant legitimate part of the entertainment establishment, with involvement in streaming, VOD, production finance and movie marketing. NASDAQ-listed Sohu is one of China’s leading online portals and has activities ranging from search to games and video.
The “Simpsons” acquisition comes despite growing regulation of the sector, after a period of free-wheeling growth, that seems intended to limit the volume of foreign content on the Chinese video platforms.
The breakthrough in China comes in the heels of “The Simpsons” making headlines for the strong ratings performance of its 12-day marathon on 21st Century Fox’s fledgling FXX network. The China pact was clinched by Mark Kaner, president of Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution. It’s unclear how many of the 552 (and counting) “Simpsons” episodes will be available to Sohu.
“We are excited to expand our existing and long standing partnership with Sohu to allow audiences in China to watch one of the greatest TV shows ever made,” Kaner said.