New York (CNN) Warner Bros. Discovery has filed a lawsuit against Paramount Friday, claiming the rival media company had breached its half-billion-dollar exclusive contract with HBO Max streaming “South Park” on its own streaming platform, Paramount+.
HBO Max is a unit of Warner Bros. Discovery, which also owns CNN.
Almost all episodes of “South Park” air first on Paramount-owned Comedy Central. In 2019, the creators of Paramount and “South Park” reunited auctioned off the broadcast rights to the show’s first 23 seasons plus three new 10-episode seasons on HBO Max.
Prior to Discovery’s 2022 merger with Warner Bros., WarnerMedia, then owned by AT&T, agreed to pay nearly $1.7 million for exclusive broadcast rights for each episode of “South Park,” according to the lawsuit. The first episodes of Season 24 of “South Park” were scheduled to ship in March 2020. Then came the pandemic, and WarnerMedia was told that new production of “South Park” would be halted, according to the complaint.
In March 2021, Paramount launched Paramount+, and Warner Bros. Discovery says Paramount, MTV and South Park Digital Studios have together “planned to divert as much new ‘South Park’ content as possible to Paramount+ in order to boost this fledgling streaming platform.”
The company also said it was promised 30 new episodes over three seasons, but only received 14 episodes so far.
“We believe that Paramount and South Park Digital Studios have embarked on a multi-year program of unfair business practices and deception, flagrantly and repeatedly violating our contract, which clearly gave HBO Max exclusive streaming rights to the library. existing and new content from the popular animated comedy South Park,” HBO Max said in a statement.
Paramount says these allegations are “baseless”.
Paramount “continues to honor the parties’ contract by delivering new episodes of South Park to HBO Max, despite the fact that Warner Bros. Discovery failed and refused to pay the licensing fees it owes Paramount for the episodes that have already been delivered, and that HBO Max continues to stream,” a Paramount Global spokesperson said.
The lawsuit, filed in the New York State Supreme Court, also claims a A $900 million deal between Paramount affiliate MTV and South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone broke contract terms in August 2021. That deal included 14 “South Park” films designed for the streaming”. movies that would premiere on Paramount+.
Warner Bros. Discovery claims that the defendants used terms such as “movies”, “movies” and “events” to circumvent their contractual obligations.
“As Stone described it publicly, ‘we’ve got some money to fuck with you now,'” he said in the lawsuit, of the MTV deal.