Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman and Kenny McCormick attend The Paley Center for Media presents a special retrospective event honoring 20 seasons of ‘South Park’ at The Paley Center for Media on September 1, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.
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Discovery of Warner Bros. for follow-up World Paramount seeking to enforce broadcast rights to “South Park”, setting the stage for a legal battle between two media giants as broadcast wars escalate.
On Friday, Warner Bros. Discovery has filed a lawsuit against Paramount, South Park Digital Studios and MTV Entertainment seeking hundreds of millions of dollars for what it believes is a breach of contract.
Warner said it agreed in 2019 to pay more than $500 million, or about $1.69 million per episode, to license “South Park,” the long-running schoolboy cartoon from elementary to bad-mouthed that has aired on Paramount’s Comedy Central cable television network for decades, for its own HBO Max streaming platform.
During the bidding process for the rights to “South Park,” according to the filing, Paramount asked if Warner Bros. Discovery is reportedly considering splitting the rights to the show for Paramount’s own streaming service.
“Warner/HBO rejected the proposal as a ‘non-starter,'” according to the lawsuit.
However, Warner alleged in its lawsuit that Paramount reneged on its contract and withheld the “South Park” specials and other related content. The lawsuit points to Paramount’s fledgling streaming service, Paramount+, as the reason.
A Paramount spokesperson denied Warner’s claims in Friday’s lawsuit, adding that Warner had stopped paying licensing fees.
“We believe these allegations are without merit and we look forward to demonstrating this through the legal process,” a Paramount spokesperson said in a statement. “We also note that Paramount continues to honor 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 licensing fees it owes Paramount. for episodes that have already been delivered, and that HBO Max continues to air.”
Although the deal called for HBO Max to receive the first episodes of the final season of “South Park” in 2020, Paramount said it informed Warner in March that it would halt production on the season due to the pandemic.
Warner then claims that “South Park” and its creators have moved forward with producing other types of content, such as two pandemic-themed specials airing between September 2020 and March 2021.
Warner further alleges the scheme was underway when Paramount affiliate MTV signed a deal with the creators of ‘South Park’ in 2021, which called for exclusive content for Paramount+, worth $900 million. of dollars.
“We believe that Paramount and South Park Digital Studios have embarked on a multi-year program of unfair business practices and deception, flagrantly and repeatedly violating our contract, which clearly gave HBO Max exclusive streaming rights to the library. existing and new content from the popular animated comedy. South Park“, a spokesperson for Warner Bros. Discovery said in a statement on Friday.
The showdown comes as the streaming services vie for subscribers and seek to achieve profitability in the near future. Media companies have spent billions of dollars on content to attract customers and have recently begun to cut costs as increased competition has led to slower subscriber growth.
This week, Warner Bros. Discovery reported a big loss in quarterly revenue as the company grapples with a slowing advertising market, which has weighed on revenue. The company, however, said it added 1.1 million global streaming subscribers, bringing its total to 96.1 million for services such as HBO Max and Discovery+. Losses from the streaming business also narrowed to $217 million for the period, “a $511 million year-over-year improvement.”
Warner Bros. Discovery plans to launch a combined HBO Max and Discovery+ streaming service this spring.
Meanwhile, Paramount said last week that Paramount+ hit 56 million subscribers in its most recent quarter. The company plans to raise the price of its streaming service when it combines Paramount+ and Showtime later this year. Paramount also said she was affected by the tough ad market.
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