Warner Bros. Discovery Sues Paramount Global Over “South Park” Streaming Rights Dispute

War[0] Discovery Inc. has filed a lawsuit against Paramount Global for breach of contract on the streaming rights for the long-running Comedy Central series “South Park.” The lawsuit, filed in the New York State Supreme Court, alleges that Paramount has been “stealing content” by diverting resources away from regular episodes and characterizing new content as “movies,” “films,” or “events” in order to avoid the $500 million licensing agreement that HBO Max had with Paramount in 2019.

The agreement granted HBO Max exclusive access to the entire 300-episode “South Park” catalog and three seasons of 10 episodes each.[1] The lawsuit claims that Paramount has only delivered 16 episodes as of February 2021, and that a separate $900 million deal with “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone for 14 special episodes, including so-called “super size” episodes, were created exclusively for Paramount+ — making a total of 30 episodes.[2] War[0] Discovery is seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for “breach of contract, fraud, and other misconduct” and for Paramount to be enjoined from further streaming the “South Park” special content on its own platform.

Paramount denies the allegations by War[0] and has accused War[0] of not paying the license fees it owes under the agreement. A spokesperson for Paramount Global said in a statement that “we believe these claims are without merit and look forward to demonstrating so through the legal process.”[4]

“South Park” has been a staple of Comedy Central cable channel for more than 25 years and the show has remained a ratings staple and audience favorite in the animated space, earning 18 Emmy nominations and winning five.[5] The show has achieved a cult status and its creators have become billionaires due to their savvy deal-making. HBO Max had hoped to leverage the “South Park” content to build its streaming platform, but Paramount’s move to create exclusive content for its own platform has put the two media giants at odds.

0. “South Park $500M Streaming Rights Prompts Lawsuit Between WBD & Paramount” Screen Rant, 24 Feb. 2023, https://screenrant.com/south-park-lawsuit-streaming-rights-warner-bros-paramount/

1. “HBO Max Targets Paramount in “South Park” Lawsuit” TipRanks, 24 Feb. 2023, https://www.tipranks.com/news/hbo-max-targets-paramount-in-south-park-lawsuit

2. “Warner Bros. Discovery Files ‘South Park' Content Licensing Lawsuit Against Paramount” Media Play News, 25 Feb. 2023, https://www.mediaplaynews.com/warner-bros-discovery-files-south-park-content-licensing-lawsuit-against-paramount/

3. “Ugly battle over $500m South Park deal” news.com.au, 25 Feb. 2023, https://www.news.com.au/entertainment/tv/streaming/lawsuit-over-500-million-south-park-deal/news-story/88e5ae894fe4c4d29a68d1e57ffce7c9

4. “Warner Bros. Discovery Files Lawsuit Against Paramount Global over ‘South Park' Licensing Dispute” Animation Magazine, 24 Feb. 2023, https://www.animationmagazine.net/2023/02/warner-bros-discovery-files-lawsuit-against-paramount-global-over-south-park-licensing-dispute/

5. “‘South Park’ Lawsuit: Warner Bros. Discovery Sues Paramount Global Over Licensing Dispute” Variety, 24 Feb. 2023, https://variety.com/2023/tv/news/south-park-lawsuit-hbo-max-sues-paramount-1235534780/

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