At the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour, FXX presented a first look at its streaming service, Simpsons World—a comprehensive, immersive streaming service built around the 552 episodes and counting of The Simpsons. Simpsons World is a digital portal to the entire Simpsons canon—like HBO Go for just the one show. In fact, the company that developed HBO Go, Huge, also worked with FX on their streaming service, FXNOW. Simpsons World will be available on FXNOW as well as SimpsonsWorld.com. And like HBO Go, Simpsons World will require authentication: Cable subscribers who get the FX bundle (FX, FXX, and FXM) will be able to access the service. (Hopefully, thousands of parents across the land will not notice their kids’ friends’ old roommates’ using their passwords to watch The Simpsons.)
Simpsons World arose out of one of the biggest syndication deals in recent history—FXX bought the rights to the entirety of the show, which just concluded its 25th season. FXX is not going to become a network that broadcasts just The Simpsons, as was rumored, though it will come pretty close with a number of marathons, including a themed marathon leading up to each new Simpsons episode broadcast on Fox. (The example given: If Fox is going to air a Krusty episode on Sunday, you might get a marathon of Krusty episodes beforehand on FXX. It’s not complicated.)
But it’s Simpsons World that really showcases the vastness of the syndication deal. The streaming service has a lot of special features designed to make the back catalog of Simpsons episodes into more than just a binge-watching opportunity. A “Simpsons heartbeat” on the main page offers a scrollable graph of every episode indexed by air date and audience popularity. Options for viewing include “script view,” which unspools the script next to the viewing window as you watch, as well as specialized tours through episodes like “movie moments” that explain references to cinema. There’s also a viewing mode called “Simpsons TV” where viewers will be able to watch curated selections strung together—playlists, essentially. For example, you could choose to watch a channel that’s just “Treehouse Of Horror” episodes.
There’s the standard, Netflix-like episode guide, designed in a very Springfield palette of crayon colors. Simpsons World has exhaustive archival material, too, drawn from Matt Groening’s book of the same name. That includes character pages and signature quotes.
The scope of the project is staggering, but the team behind it at FXX—headed by Stephanie Gibbons, president of marketing and on-air promotions—has clearly come to the experience with the hopes of making it as palatable to fans as possible. All the clips shown during FXX’s presentation were fan favorites—the audience of critics outright laughed. And after the announcement, there were audible “wow”s from the room—this from an organization that is so dour it doesn’t applaud, ever.
The entire enterprise will stream online and will encourage sharing of clips, quotes, and other material. Thus FXX brings the world one step closer to Myles McNutt’s proposed Simpsons clip database.