"Every. Simpsons. Ever."
That's the first-time claim cable's upstart FXX network is making about the animated classic. As Bart & Co. approach their 25th anniversary in December, the show will make its cable-TV debut Thursday, when the entire library -- 552 episodes and counting -- will air in a 12-day, 278-hour marathon through Labor Day.
The fest includes The Simpsons Movie and then a switch to extended blocks of episodes starting Sept. 2, with curated events such as a 12-hour Treehouse of Horror marathon Oct. 26.
The deal, believed to be among the largest in syndication history, is most ambitious for Simpsons World, an online 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 access to the entire library of episodes for streaming. A related website allows viewers to research characters, find and share clips, read scripts and more.
"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 boost to FXX, now airing a handful of original series including It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, along with movies.
The app with the episode library initially will 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 site 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 home on Hulu in July, where its 17-season run of episodes is available free until Sept. 24, when it moves to subscription-based Hulu Plus. The South Park Studios website (southpark.cc.com), also carrying the library, will then feature a rotating selection of episodes.
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