FXX network wins first cable rights to 'The Simpsons'

The characters of Homer (R) and Bart Simpson pose by the star of Matt Groening, creator of "The Simpsons," before it was unveiled on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California February 14, 2012. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - U.S. television network FXX has secured the cable and online streaming rights to reruns of the Fox animated series "The Simpsons" in what is thought to be one of the most expensive syndication deals in television, the network said on Friday. FXX, owned by 21st Century Fox, said it will begin airing past episodes of "The Simpsons" in August 2014. At the same time, its soon-to-be launched on-demand mobile service, FXNOW, will make available all episodes from past seasons of Bart, Homer, Lisa and the rest of the dysfunctional family. The series' first 24 seasons, including 530 episodes, will be put into syndication as part of the new deal and each subsequent season will be made available when a new season begins to air. FXX, a channel aimed at young adults that debuted in September, said the agreement allows it to air the current 25th season of "The Simpsons" once the series' 26th season begins in September 2014. While FXX, Fox and syndication arm Twentieth Television are all part of Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox, the "Simpsons" syndication rights were sold through a competitive bidding process that drew interest from five players in the cable industry, a person with knowledge of the deal said. Financial terms were not disclosed, but FXX said the deal was made "after a vigorous bidding war which resulted in what is believed to be the biggest off-network deal ever." Twentieth Television was targeting a package of up to $1 billion, a person with knowledge of the plans told Reuters in July. "The Simpsons" is the longest running comedy series in television history and had only previously been syndicated on local broadcast networks. (Reporting by Eric Kelsey and Lisa Richwine; Editing by Nick Zieminski)