The producers of The Simpsons have inked a deal with FXX, the spinoff network of FX, for the exclusive cable rights to all seasons of the show. This only excludes new seasons of the comedy, which will still air on Fox.
The channel will begin broadcasting Simpsons episodes in August 2014. The deal also includes the exclusive streaming rights to the series, which would belong to FXNOW, a mobile app that will debut soon. That deal effectively prevents Netflix, Hulu or others from carrying The Simpsons. When the deal goes into effect, FXX will have access to 24 seasons of The Simpsons, which total 530 episodes; in September 2014, it will add the 25th season when Fox begins airing the 26th.
FX’s COO and president of program strategy Chuck Saftler was literally quoted in a press release as saying, “Woo hoo!”
The press release announcing the union calls it the “biggest off-network deal ever.” Vulture estimates the transaction cost FXX nine figures by going off industry standards of series selling their broadcast rights to episodes for $1 million a pop. At the minimum, that would mean FXX paid half a billion dollars to end what the press release describes as a “vigorous bidding war.”
Despite airing initially on Fox, The Simpsons weren’t bound to go to one of its sister networks like FX or FXX, according to Vulture. Because the show’s creators and voice actors each own a stake in the series, they could possibly sue 20th Century Fox if they thought the show had not been sold at fair market value.
The Simpsons has become the longest-running scripted show in TV history. Since premiering in December 1989, the series has won 28 Emmys and its theatrical short, “The Longest Daycare,” was nominated for a 2012 Oscar. In 2007, it produced The Simpsons Movie, and its characters have made their way onto U.S. postal stamps and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.