‘South Park’ on Paramount + invites Warner Bros. Discovery Lawsuit

Discovery of Warner Bros. Inc.

WBD -1.14%

sues Paramount Global,

FOR -4.86%

saying he paid the rival media company for exclusive streaming rights to new episodes of ‘South Park’, only for Paramount to put the popular animated comedy’s new content on its own streaming service, Paramount +.

In the lawsuit, filed Friday in the New York State Supreme Court, Warner Bros. Discovery said it paid more than $500 million in 2019 to exclusively stream new and existing episodes of “South Park” on its HBO Max platform through 2025.

“South Park” airs on Comedy Central, a cable network owned by Paramount.

Warner Bros. Discovery said it was assured the deal would give it exclusive streaming rights to at least 333 episodes, suggesting three new seasons of 10 episodes each. He said in the complaint that he received fewer new episodes of “South Park” than that. He also said that “South Park” specials had aired on Paramount+ that he had not received.

“South Park” won four Emmys and turned many of its characters into household names.


Comedy Central/Everett Collection

“When Paramount decided to launch its own streaming platform, its priorities changed dramatically,” Warner Bros. Discover in Paramount+’s lawsuit, launched in 2021. The company alleged that Paramount breached its contract “to support Paramount+ at Warner/HBO’s expense.

Warner Bros. Discovery said it wants “South Park” to attract new and younger HBO Max subscribers. He argued in the lawsuit that Paramount tried to use “South Park” to bolster its own streaming service, causing HBO Max to lose subscribers. The company did not say how much money it was seeking in the lawsuit, but said it had damages of more than $200 million.

A spokeswoman for HBO Max repeated allegations made in the lawsuit, including that Paramount breached its contract.

A Paramount spokeswoman said the allegations were baseless and the company would prove it through the legal process.

Having the rights to popular shows can help streaming companies differentiate themselves from the competition and attract more viewers. Media companies have ended licensing deals to bring popular shows to their own streaming services. netflix Inc.,

for example, lost the rights to broadcast “The Office” in 2021, so Comcast Body

new service, Peacock, could carry the comedy.

Paramount Global, formerly ViacomCBS Inc., has signed a six-year deal in 2021 with “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone for 14 “South Park” films for Paramount+, in addition to six new seasons of the TV show on Comedy Central. The company paid $900 million to Messrs. Stone and Parker as part of the deal, the Journal reported.

“South Park,” which first aired on Comedy Central in 1997, follows four troublemaking boys in a small town. The show won four Emmys and turned cartoon characters Cartman and Kenny into household names.

Write to Joseph Pisani at joseph.pisani@wsj.com

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