Warner Bros. Discovery is suing Paramount for allegedly “stealing” South Park content material it claims it ought to have the unique streaming rights to, as reported earlier by Variety. In a lawsuit filed on Friday, HBO Max’s mum or dad firm claims Paramount labored with South Park’s creators and its MTV subsidiary to “divert as a lot of the brand new South Park content material as potential” to Paramount Plus to draw viewers to the platform.
In 2019, Warner Bros. Discovery says it paid around $1.6 million for every of the over 300 episodes that South Park Digital Studios (SPDS) — a three way partnership between Paramount and South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone — agreed to license. Warner Bros. Discovery claims Paramount, which additionally owns Comedy Central, South Park’s long-time residence on cable TV, “induced” South Park Digital Studios to breach this contract with Warner Bros. Discovery.
Paramount “used grammatical sleight-of-hand, characterizing new content material as ‘motion pictures,’ ‘movies,’ or ‘occasions’”
The deal was imagined to convey the present’s complete library, in addition to the 30 upcoming new episodes for seasons 24, 25, and 26 to HBO Max till June 2025. Nonetheless, Warner Bros. Discovery alleges it didn’t get what it paid for. It claims South Park Digital Studios fell wanting its promise to offer 10 new episodes for every season and charged the corporate further for the 50-minute Pandemic Particular.
The lawsuit additionally takes challenge with the massive $900 million deal Paramount made with the creators of South Park in August 2021 — simply months after the launch of Paramount Plus. As a part of the deal, South Park will solely stream on Paramount Plus after the contract with HBO Max ends.
The studio later went on to create a number of Paramount Plus-exclusive specials, together with South Park: Publish Covid, South Park: Publish Covid: The Return of Covid, and South Park: The Streaming Wars Part 1 and Part 2, which debuted all through 2021 and 2022. Warner Bros. Discovery claims these specials ought to’ve been included of their contract, and that South Park Studios, Paramount, and MTV “used grammatical sleight-of-hand, characterizing new content material as ‘motion pictures,’ ‘movies,’ or ‘occasions’ to side-step SPDS’s contractual obligations.”
In a press release to Selection, a Paramount spokesperson mentioned the corporate believes “these claims are with out advantage” and alleges Warner Bros. Discovery “has failed and refused to pay license charges that it owes to Paramount for episodes which have already been delivered, and which HBO Max continues to stream.” Paramount didn’t instantly reply to The Verge’s request for remark.
The lawsuit comes at a pivotal time for Warner Bros. Discovery, which reported adding just 1.1 million subscribers throughout HBO, HBO Max, and Discovery Plus this previous quarter, whereas dropping one other $2.1 billion. It clearly views South Park as a core part of HBO Max, because it calls the present “anchor” content material that’s “central to branding and advertising” within the lawsuit, and says having the sequence lets streamers “enhance subscribers and subscription charges, in addition to attract advertisers.”
Warner Bros. Discovery is suing Paramount, SPDS, and MTV for “vital financial damages” that shall be decided at trial.