For 26 seasons, viewers watched “South Park”, which follows the antics of four boys in the titular quiet mountain town. The cult animated sitcom is famous for its vulgar language and satire on a wide range of pop culture topics, but it still comes as a bit of a surprise when the show’s drama has jumped from screen to real life.
In a lawsuit filed by Warner Bros. Discovery company Paramount Global has been accused of breaching certain terms of a $500 million licensing deal for the rights to stream episodes of “South Park” in 2019. By directing “South Park” specials and other content to its own streaming platform Paramount+, the lawsuit alleges Paramount breach of contract.
According to the lawsuit, Paramount committed “repeated and gross duplicitous distortions of fact and breaches of contract” and “flagrantly intended to support Paramount+ at the expense of Warner/HBO.” Paramount is the parent company of South Park’s long-running Comedy Central cable television network.
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 – allegedly broke that deal by airing a number of episodes special South Park.
The deal called for the show’s full catalog to be transferred to HBO Max by June 2025, along with 30 upcoming new episodes from seasons 24 through 26. After the deal with HBO Max expires, “South Park” will air exclusively on Paramount Plus as part of the deal. Still, WBD says it didn’t get what it paid for, claiming South Park Digital Studios charged the company for a 50-minute Pandemic Special and broke its promise to deliver 10 new episodes each season.
The complaint also criticizes the substantial $900 million deal Paramount struck with the creators of South Park in August 2021, just months after Paramount+ debuted. The studio then produced several Paramount+-only specials. The lawsuit alleges that Paramount used “verbal tricks” and “grammar tricks” to avoid liability under the 2019 contract, referring to the new content as “movies”, “movies” or “events”. instead of as “episodes”.
In 2021, Paramount+ streamed two COVID specials – “South Park: Post COVID” and “South Park: Post COVID: The Return of COVID” – and then last year, almost anticipating the upcoming lawsuit, the service aired “South Park: Post COVID” Park: Post COVID: The Return of COVID “Park Stream Wars” and “South Park Stream Wars Part 2”.
Warner Bros. Discovery maintains that despite their airtime, these promotions should have been included in their deal, and even if not, Paramount circumvented the spirit of the deal to undermine its value.
In response, Paramount denied the allegations. “We believe these claims are unsubstantiated and are awaiting this to be demonstrated in a legal process,” Paramount Global said. “We also note that Paramount continues to abide by the parties’ agreement by delivering new South Park episodes to HBO Max, despite the fact that Warner Bros. was delivered and which 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.