For 26 seasons, viewers have watched “South Park” as it follows the antics of four children in the titular sleepy mountain town. The iconic animated sitcom is famous for its foul language and lampooning a wide range of pop culture topics, but it still comes as a bit of a surprise when the show’s drama leaps from screen to real life.
In a lawsuit filed by Warner Bros. Discovery, Paramount Global is accused of violating certain terms of a $500 million licensing agreement made for the broadcast rights to “South Park” episodes in 2019. By directing “South Park” specials and other material to its own streaming platform Paramount+, the lawsuit alleges that Paramount violated the contract.
According to the lawsuit, Paramount committed “multiple flagrant misrepresentations of fact and breaches of contract” and “blatantly intent to support Paramount+ at the expense of Warner/HBO.” Paramount is the parent company of Comedy Central, the longtime cable home of “South Park.”
WBD paid $1.6 million for over 300 episodes in a deal with South Park Digital Studios in 2019, however the company, which is a partnership between Paramount and South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, reportedly broke this contract. by airing a number of South Park specials.
The deal was to bring the show’s entire catalog to HBO Max through June 2025, along with the next 30 new episodes for seasons 24 through 26. After its contract with HBO Max expires, “South Park” will air solely on Paramount Plus as part of the deal Despite this, WBD alleges it didn’t get what it paid for, claiming South Park Digital Studios overcharged the business for the 50-minute Pandemic Special and broke its promise to deliver 10 new episodes for each season. .
The complaint also criticizes the major $900 million deal Paramount reached with the creators of South Park in August 2021, just months after Paramount+ debuted. After that, the studio produced several exclusive Paramount+ specials. The lawsuit claims that to evade its responsibilities under the 2019 settlement, Paramount used “verb tricks” and “grammar sleight of hand,” referring to the new content as “movies,” “movies” or “events.” ” instead of as “episodes”.
In 2021, Paramount+ aired a couple of COVID-focused specials: “South Park: Post COVID” and “South Park: Post COVID: The Return of COVID,” and then last year, almost in anticipation of the next lawsuit, the service aired “South Park the Streaming Wars” and “South Park the Streaming Wars Part 2.”
Warner Bros. Discovery maintains that despite their runtime, those specials should have been included in their deal and even if not, Paramount was skirting the spirit of the deal to undermine its value.
In response, Paramount denied the allegations. “We believe these claims are without merit and we look forward to proving it through the legal process,” Paramount Global said. “We also note that Paramount continues to adhere to the parties’ contract by delivering new episodes of South Park to HBO Max, despite the fact that Warner Bros. Discovery has failed and refused to pay the license fees it owes Paramount for the episodes it released. they have already been delivered. delivered, and that HBO Max continues to broadcast.”
With the future of “South Park” streaming in doubt, we’ve put together a list of where you can find all of the show’s content, as well as other titles from the Parker and Stone team.