‘South Park’ on Paramount+ Calls Warner Bros. Discovery lawsuit

Warner Bros. Discovery Inc.

WBD -1.14%

is suing Paramount Global,

FOR -4.86%

said it paid the rival media company for exclusive streaming rights to new “South Park” episodes, only for Paramount to post new content from the hit animated comedy on its own streaming service, Paramount+.

In the lawsuit filed Friday in the New York State Supreme Court, Warner Bros. Discovery that it paid more than $500 million in 2019 to exclusively stream new and existing “South Park” episodes on its HBO Max platform until 2025.

“South Park” airs on Comedy Central, a cable network owned by Paramount.

Warner Bros. Discovery said it was certain the deal would give it exclusive streaming rights to at least 333 episodes, suggesting three new seasons with 10 episodes each. It said in the complaint that it has received fewer new “South Park” episodes than that. It also said “South Park” specials have aired on Paramount+ which it has not received.

“South Park” has won four Emmys and made many of its characters household names.


Comedy Central/Everett Collection

“When Paramount decided to launch its own new streaming platform, its priorities changed dramatically,” said Warner Bros. Discover in the Paramount+ complaint, which launched in 2021. The company alleged that Paramount had breached its contract “to purchase Paramount+ at Warner/HBO’s expense.”

Warner Bros. Discovery said it wanted to attract new and younger subscribers to HBO Max with “South Park.” It argued in the lawsuit that Paramount was trying to use “South Park” to boost its own streaming service, thereby missing out on HBO Max subscribers. The company did not say how much money it is seeking in the lawsuit, but said it has more than $200 million in damages.

An HBO Max spokeswoman repeated the allegations in the lawsuit, including that Paramount had breached its contract.

A Paramount spokeswoman said the claims are baseless, and the company will demonstrate that through legal process.

Having the rights to popular shows can help streaming companies differentiate themselves from the competition and attract more viewers. Media companies have ended licensing deals to bring popular shows to their own streaming services. Netflix Inc.,

lost the streaming rights to “The Office” in 2021, for example, so Comcast Corps

new service, Peacock, could stream the comedy.

Paramount Global, formerly ViacomCBS Inc., signed a six-year deal with “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone in 2021 for 14 “South Park” movies for Paramount+, in addition to six new seasons of the TV show on Comedy Central. The company paid Messrs. Stone and Parker $900 million in the deal, the Journal reported.

South Park, which first aired on Comedy Central in 1997, follows four troublesome guys in a small town. The show has won four Emmys and made cartoon characters Cartman and Kenny household names.

Write to Joseph Pisani at joseph.pisani@wsj.com

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