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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

'Simpsons World' will be blocked from Canada; exclusive to FXX in U.S.

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - Don't have a cow, man, but Canada has been locked out of "Simpsons World."

Reporters attending the summer TV network press tour Monday were shown a demonstration of what's being described as every "The Simpsons" fan's ultimate dream. The "Simpsons World" app, which launches in the United States only on Aug. 17, offers fans full digital access to all 552 episodes.

It is, however, much more than a video jukebox. Viewers can jump throughout the history of the animated series, read scripts while watching episodes and curate their own playlists. It can be accessed in America on all manner of screens, mobile devices, iPads, Smart TVs and xBoxes. It is the ultimate "Simpsons" toy, a bottomless extension of a TV franchise beyond anything that has ever been done before.

It is part of what Fox International Television president Marion G. Edwards calls "perhaps the largest syndication deal ever having been made for any television series in history." FX Networks outbid other U.S. cable rivals for exclusive rights to the series, the longest-running scripted program in TV history. The deal was struck with Gracie Films Productions in association with 20th Century Fox Television. While networks and stations in Canada and around the world will continue to offer viewers a window on "The Simpsons," FXX will now become the exclusive U.S. cable home for the series.

Because "Simpsons World" is essentially FXX's exclusive non-linear toy, it is off limits to Canadian linear rights holders. The only territory around the world with access to the non-linear "Simpsons World" environment is the United States. Even in the U.S., viewers will have to be FXX subscribers to tap into "Simpsons World."

In Canada, first-run episodes of "The Simpsons" have been a staple of Global's prime-time lineup for 25 years. This fall, for the first time in memory, Global will not simulcast "The Simpsons" on Sunday, moving the series from its traditional 8 p.m. ET timeslot to 10 p.m. Bell Media shows reruns of "The Simpsons" on The Comedy Network. Other Canadian carriers have limited rights to certain seasons.

Edwards says several season packages of the series have been sold around the world for more than two decades. This FXX cable deal, however, is an exclusive game changer, especially in how it pertains to non-linear rights, and geo-blocking "Simpsons World" from Canadian and other territories will be vigorously enforced.

Edwards feels untangling rights to make "Simpsons World" legally available around the world would likely be impossible. "The complexities of this deal are unique."

As Bart Simpson might someday write on a blackboard, "I will not illegally download 'Simpsons World' in Canada."

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Bill Brioux is a freelance TV columnist based in Brampton, Ont.

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