The staggered global launch of Disney+ has brought with it plenty of questions of just how content parity will work between the the House of Mouse’s U.S. offerings and the newer iterations of the service, which will already have to deal with paradoxically weird rollouts of original content long since aired elsewhere. But at least one concern has been resolved: UK viewers will be able to watch so much Simpsons.
The appearance of Springfield’s finest on the UK iteration of Disney+—perhaps one of Disney’s most potent, if occasionally depressing, acquisitions out of its absorption of 20th Century Fox—had been in lingering doubt in the run up to the service’s planned rollout there (as well as several other European countries, including Spain, France, and Italy) later this month.
In the UK, airing rights to The Simpsons have long been tied up in multiple broadcast and cable deals with both Channel 4 and cable company Sky, which is currently majority-owned by Comcast. Similar deals with Sky for Marvel content are partially responsible for why Disney+ is rolling out in the country more than five months after its U.S. debut, as Disney has straggled to alter or otherwise retreat from broadcasting deals that it had built up in the years before it planned to create its own streaming platform. As rollouts for content on the wider European launch of Disney+ kicked off, the company was pointedly silent about the presence of The Simpsons on the platform.
That is, until today. Deadline reports that Disney, Sky, and Channel 4 confirmed that a new co-exclusive broadcasting deal arranged between the three broadcasters would mean that while episodes of The Simpsons would continue to air on UK cable TV via Sky (and terrestrially on Channel 4), the show’s three-decade-spanning back catalogue would be available with the launch of Disney+ in the UK.
Over 600 episodes of The Simpsons + Disney + Pixar + Marvel + Star Wars + Nat Geo = ???? D’oh not miss out! pic.twitter.com/IqRM1BXU6C
— Disney+ UK (@DisneyPlusUK) March 4, 2020
It’s a huge boon for the appeal of Disney+ in the UK—which is already going to be behind on original content like The Mandalorian and The Clone Wars, which will both roll out on their own weekly releases, out of step with the current availablity of either series on the U.S. service. But there are still questions about what the deal will mean for The Simpsons’ streaming availability going forward. Disney+ UK’s tweet confirming the news today only vaguely promised “600+” episodes of the show would be on the platform, rather than explicitly saying all of them (it’s likely, given that there are 673 episodes of The Simpsons so far, with more on the way). It also did not address just how new episodes of the show will roll out in relation to their broadcast on Sky channels, either.
But for many Simpsons stalwarts, that’s probably not going to be a concern as long as the show’s classic seasons are available on demand, even in the currently altered form they’ve been made available in. You’ll have plenty of Simpsons to watch when Disney+ hits the UK starting March 24.
As long as you don’t share any spoilers, apparently.