Warner Bros. Discovery is suing Paramount for alleged “stealing” South Park content it claims should have the exclusive streaming rights, as previously reported by Variety. In a lawsuit filed Friday, HBO Max’s parent company claims Paramount collaborated South Park‘s creators and its MTV subsidiary to “derive as much as possible from the new South Park content possible” to Paramount Plus to attract viewers to the platform.
In 2019, Warner Bros. Discovery that it paid approximately $1.6 million for each of the more than 300 episodes produced by South Park Digital Studios (SPDS) – a joint venture between Paramount and South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone – agreed to license. Warner Bros. Discovery claims Paramount, which also owns Comedy Central, South Parklongtime home to cable TV, South Park “tempted” Digital Studios to sign this contract with Warner Bros. Disconnect Discovery.
Paramount “used grammatical sleight of hand and labeled new content as ‘movies’, ‘films’ or ‘events'”
The deal would bring the show’s entire library, as well as the 30 upcoming new episodes for seasons 24, 25, and 26, to HBO Max through June 2025. Warner Bros. However, Discovery claims it didn’t get what it paid for. It alleges that South Park Digital Studios failed to deliver on its promise to deliver 10 new episodes for each season and charged the company extra for the 50 minutes Pandemic special.
The lawsuit also challenges the massive $900 million deal Paramount made with the makers of South Park in August 2021 – just months after the launch of Paramount Plus. As part of the agreement South Park will stream exclusively on Paramount Plus after its contract with HBO Max expires.
The studio later went on to make several Paramount Plus exclusive specials, including South Park: Post Covid, South Park: Post Covid: The Return of CovidAnd South Park: The Streaming Wars part 1 And Part 2, which debuted in 2021 and 2022. Warner Bros. Discovery claims that these specials should have been included in their contract, and that South Park Studios, Paramount and MTV “used grammar sleight of hand and characterized new content as ‘movies’. ,’ ‘movies’ or ‘events’ to circumvent SPDS’ contractual obligations.”
In a statement to Variety, a Paramount spokesperson said the company believes “these allegations are baseless” and claims that Warner Bros. Discovery “failed and refused to pay licensing fees it owes Paramount for episodes already delivered that HBO Max continues to stream.” Paramount did not immediately respond The edge‘s request for comment.
The lawsuit comes at a critical time for Warner Bros. Discovery, which reported that it added just 1.1 million subscribers to HBO, HBO Max and Discovery Plus last quarter, while losing another $2.1 billion. It looks clear South Park as a core component of HBO Max, calling the show “anchor” content that is “central to branding and marketing” in the lawsuit, saying the series will allow streamers to “increase subscribers and subscription fees and attract advertisers.”
Warner Bros. Discovery is suing Paramount, SPDS and MTV for “substantial monetary damages” to be determined at trial.