Streaming rights for South Park are at the center of a massive lawsuit between two services, HBO Max and Paramount+.
Warner Bros. Discovery, the parent company of HBO Max, sued Paramount Global – which owns both Paramount+ and Comedy Central, South ParkThe longtime television house of – Friday in New York Supreme Court, arguing in the lawsuit that the long-running animated series violated the $500 million deal that gave HBO Max exclusivity South Park broadcast rights.
The agreement, concluded in 2019, provided South ParkThe entire catalog – which then spans 23 seasons and 300 episodes – will stream exclusively on the brand new HBO Max service, which will also get exclusive rights to the next three seasons of South Park.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic halted production on the TV series, resulting in a greatly shortened Season 24 (two episodes of the usual 10). A similarly abridged Season 25 (six episodes) followed in 2022, with Season 26 (apparently six episodes again) airing now on Comedy Central/HBO Max.
As newer episodes are more desirable and profitable for HBO Max than older ones, the streaming service believes it overpaid for the exclusive rights of the 2019 contract, Variety reports.
South ParkShortened new seasons are just one of the complaints in Warner Bros.’ lawsuit. Discovery versus Paramount Global. The other major problem is the fact that South Park also signed a $900 million deal with Paramount for more than a dozen South Park “specials,” four of which have already aired on Paramount+.
Warner Bros. Discovery accuses Paramount/South Park It’s about using ‘verbal trickery’ and ‘grammatical sleight of hand’ to label this cartoon content as ‘specials’ – and therefore, Paramount+ property – and not ‘episodes’, making it would do HBO Max exclusives.
Paramount Global denied the allegations in a statement to Variety. “We believe these allegations are without merit and we look forward to proving it through the legal process,” a Paramount Global spokesperson said. “We also note that Paramount continues to honor the parties’ contract by delivering new South Park episodes at HBO Max, despite the fact that Warner Bros. Discovery failed and refused to pay the licensing fees it owes Paramount for episodes that have already been delivered and that HBO Max continues to air.
South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone were not named as defendants, these Stones were quoted in the lawsuit as saying “We have money now” following the Paramount+ deal.
Ironically, given the retrial, the latest Paramount+ specials have been titled South Park: The Streaming War.