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‘Simpsons’ Showrunner Al Jean Says No Further Seasons Will Be Released on DVD

'Simpsons' Showrunner Al Jean Says No Further Seasons Will Be Released on DVD

You don’t have to look too hard for signs of the slow death of physical media, but here’s a particularly cromulent one: “Simpsons” showrunner Al Jean said today that the show will not be releasing any further seasons on DVD. 

Fox has released 18 season of “The Simpsons” on DVD — Seasons 1-17 and 20 — and several on Blu-ray, and that, for the forseeable future, is that. Given the much-touted launch of the online “Simpsons World” portal last year, it’s not entirely surprising that Fox is choosing to cut bait on physical media, but if a show with as loyal a fanbase as “The Simpsons” can’t put up the necessary sales, that doesn’t bode well for other shows either. FX has scaled back home video releases for its own shows as well, downgrading “The Americans” and “Louie” from Blu-ray to DVD-only and pushing viewers towards streaming the shows on Amazon Prime, where the visual quality is at least on a par with DVD, if not approaching Blu-ray. 

Jean said that he and “The Simpsons” crew will continue to record the elaborate group commentaries — a highlight of the DVDs — and that they should be available through “Simpsons World.” And he did not rule out a series-encompassing DVD or Blu-ray set once “The Simpsons” has completed its run. But the launch of “Simpsons World” illustrates the trade-offs in the switch between formats. Yes, you can access any episode you want whenever you want, but the months it took FX to follow through on their initial promise to allow viewers the option of watching the episodes in their original aspect ratio illustrates the shift in control from owner to provider, from buyer to seller. At least, Jean promises, “Simpsons World” won’t be charging extra for commentaries, deleted scenes or any other added content. He wrote, “I don’t think The Simpsons should ever ask for money without providing you a cheap toy.”

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