D'oh! FXX will air 552 episodes of The Simpsons

 People dressed in costume as the The Simpsons pose

In a crowded cable marketplace, FXX is trying to make a name for itself with a little help from Homer Simpson. 

The fledgling cable channel bought the syndication rights to The Simpsons, and on Thursday, it kicks off a 12-day marathon of 552 Simpsons episodes.

In September, FXX will run the episodes regularly, except for those getting their first run on FOX. FXX will also launch an app with special digital access to Simpsons shows.

“For FXX, it's almost like a coup to help them to create an identity early on,” says Tuna Amobi, Equity Analyst with S&P Capital IQ.

Amobi says The Simpsons' move to cable was highly anticipated and likely drew lots of bids. FXX, the winner, is another unit of the same parent company, 21st Century Fox. Amobi says the deal, whose terms were not disclosed, probably cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Jonathan Taplin, Director of the Annenberg Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California, says the average person watches nine cable channels and has 400 to choose from, so FXX faces big odds.

But he thinks the Simpsons could give FXX some legs. And its digital presence could pull in revenue.

“They can attach a lot of advertising to it,” he says.

Taplin says it remains to be seen whether The Simpsons will compel viewers to stick around and watch other FXX shows.

Sam Craig, Director of the Entertainment, Media and Technology program at New York University, agrees.

“If the Simpsons can't do it,” he says, “it's a question of what else is out there that can.”


Economic lessons according to "The Simpsons"

In more than 20 seasons of "The Simpsons", there are more than a few lessons about business and the economy. So many, in fact, that the show has inspired academic papers on ways to use the show in the classroom and a new book, "Homer Economicus: The Simpsons and Economics." We scoured the web to find a few clips featuring lessons on business and the economy.

Lesson: Mobs shouldn't determine public spending

In this classic clip, a smarmy Harold Hill type, played by Phil Hartman, tries to convince the residents of Springfield to spend their unexpected surplus on a monorail. The song is a wry comment on mob mentality and public spending, as Marge points out there are many other places the town's resources could be used.

Lesson: Always consider opportunity cost

Speaking of trade-offs, Homer and the members of the local 643 (part of the International Brotherhood of Jazz Dancers, Pastry Chefs, and Nuclear Technicians) make one when they nearly give up their dental insurance for a keg at every meeting. Assuming Mr. Burns is being honest about his funds, this could be a lesson in opportunity cost. But of course he's not.

Lesson: Sometimes, a monopoly has advantages

Speaking of Burns, he looks for further expand his energy empire by blocking out the sun. Joshua Hall, editor of "Homer Economicus," writes that Burns' plan presents an opportunity to discuss the nature and advantages of a monopoly.

Lesson: Don't let other business determine your prices

On a much smaller scale, Bart learns some business basics when he tries to severely undercut bars by selling stolen beer at a nickel a cup. Had Homer not come home and wrecked the scheme, Bart would have soon run out of supplies and jacked up prices anyway.

Lesson: The law of demand always matters

Finally, for the advanced "Simpsons" economist, R. Andrew Luccasen and M. Kathleen Thomas write in their paper "Simpsonomics" that this clip illustrates — and bends — the law of demand.

Homer is sent to hell for his gluttony and the devil forces him to head "all the doughnuts" as punishment. The marginal benefit should drop into the negative over time, but Homer, of course, is no ordinary glutton.

About the author

Annie Baxter is a reporter for Minnesota Public Radio.

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