Warner Bros. Discovery is suing Paramount over ‘South Park’ deal

NEW YORK — Warner Bros. Discovery Inc. is suing Paramount Global because its competitor aired new episodes of the hit animated comedy series “South Park” after Warner paid for exclusive rights.

Warner says it signed a contract in 2019 paying more than $500 million for the rights to existing and new episodes of the irreverent show, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in the New York State Supreme Court.

HBO Max, Warner’s streaming platform, is set to receive the first episodes of a new “South Park” season in 2020. But the company was told the pandemic halted production, the lawsuit says.

Despite Warner’s exclusive rights to the show until 2025, the company claims South Park Digital Studios, which produces the shows and is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, offered two pandemic specials to Paramount, which aired them in September 2020 and March 2020. 2021.

The lawsuit alleges that the pandemic specials should have been offered to Warner under the original contract. The move, called “verbal cheating” in the lawsuit, drove the show’s fans to the rival Paramount platform. Nearly all South Park episodes premiere on Comedy Central, one of Paramount’s cable channels, the lawsuit said.

Show creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, who launched the show in 1997 and oversee the franchise, were not named in the lawsuit.

Acquiring streaming rights to “South Park” is a competitive process due to the potentially lucrative market attracting more subscribers, advertisers, and a loyal fan base that, according to Warner’s lawsuit, consists primarily of young adults.

The 24-page lawsuit also mentions a $900 million 2021 deal between a Paramount subsidiary and South Park Digital Studios for exclusive content on the Paramount Plus streaming service, which launched the same year.

Warner claims the deal was a deliberate “plan” between Paramount, its subsidiary MTV Entertainment Studios and South Park Digital Studios to “redirect as much of the new South Park content as possible to Paramount Plus to boost that burgeoning streaming platform.” to give.”

Warner paid $1,687,500 per episode and claims it has not yet received all the episodes covered by the contract, resulting in more than $200 million in damages.

Paramount Global did not immediately respond to emails from The Associated Press seeking comment on the lawsuit.

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