BEVERLY HILLS — "Every. Simpsons. Ever."
That's the first-time claim by cable's upstart FXX network is making about the animated classic. As Bart & Co. approach their 25th anniversary in December, it will make its cable-TV debut Thursday, when the entire library — 552 episodes and counting —will air in a 12-day, 278-hour marathon running through Labor Day.
The fest includes The Simpsons Movie (in chronological sequence, on Aug. 29), and will then air in extended blocks starting Sept. 2 (Mondays and Fridays from 6 p.m. to midnight ET and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 to midnight), with curated events such as a 12-hour Treehouse of Horror marathon on Oct. 26.
The deal, believed to be among the largest in syndication history, is most ambitious for Simpsons World, a vast treasure-trove of the animated classic expected to launch in October.
The site, part of the FX Now app available to authenticated cable subscribers, will provide on-demand access to the entire library of episodes for streaming. A related website allows viewers to research characters (a page on Sideshow Bob lists "attempted murders"), find and share clips, read scripts and explore Simpsons lore (users, for example, can find a running tally of chalkboard gags).
"I don't want to over-promise, but I think this website can provide you with affordable health care," jokes producer Al Jean.
The episodes are expected to provide a major boost to FXX, currently airing a handful of original series including It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The League, along with movies.
The app with the full-episode library will initially be available to 60% of U.S. cable homes, including those that subscribe to AT&T U-verse, Cablevision, Comcast, Charter, Cox and Time Warner, though "we expect this to be a full rollout in little more than a year," says FX's Chuck Saftler. Visitors to the website in other homes can access clips but not full episodes.
The Simpsons is not the only long-running toon to get full-library treatment: Comedy Central's South Park found a permanent home on Hulu in July, where its entire 17-season run of episodes is available for free until Sept. 24, when it moves to the subscription-based Hulu Plus. The South Park Studios website (southpark.cc.com), also carrying the full library, will then feature a rotating selection of episodes.