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Warner Bros. Discovery sues Paramount over ‘South Park’ streaming rights

Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman and Kenny McCormick attend The Paley Heart for Media presents particular retrospective occasion honoring 20 seasons of ‘South Park’ at The Paley Heart for Media on September 1, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.

Tibrina Hobson | Getty Photographs

Warner Bros. Discovery sued Paramount International trying to implement the streaming rights of “South Park,” setting the stage for a authorized battle between two media behemoths because the streaming wars intensify.

On Friday Warner Bros. Discovery filed a lawsuit towards Paramount, South Park Digital Studios and MTV Leisure searching for tons of of thousands and thousands of {dollars} for what it believes was a breach of contract.

Warner mentioned it agreed in 2019 to pay greater than $500 million, or roughly $1.69 million per episode, to license “South Park,” the longstanding cartoon that includes bad-mouthed elementary faculty kids that has been airing on Paramount’s cable-TV community Comedy Central for many years, for its personal streaming platform HBO Max.

Throughout the bidding course of for the “South Park” rights, the submitting mentioned, Paramount allegedly requested whether or not Warner Bros. Discovery would take into account sharing the rights to the present for Paramount’s personal streaming service.

“Warner/HBO rejected the proposition as a ‘non-starter,'” in response to the lawsuit.

Nevertheless, Warner alleged in its lawsuit that Paramount went again on its contract and withheld “South Park” specials and different associated content material. The go well with factors to Paramount’s personal fledgling streaming service, Paramount+, as the rationale.

A Paramount spokesperson denied the claims made by Warner in Friday’s lawsuit, including that Warner has stopped paying licensing charges.

“We imagine these claims are with out advantage and look ahead to demonstrating so via the authorized course of,” a Paramount spokesperson mentioned in a press release. “We additionally notice that Paramount continues to stick to the events’ contract by delivering new South Park episodes to HBO Max, although Warner Bros. Discovery has failed and refused to pay license charges that it owes to Paramount for episodes which have already been delivered, and which HBO Max continues to stream.”

Though the settlement referred to as for HBO Max to obtain the primary episodes of the most recent season of “South Park” in 2020, Paramount mentioned it notified Warner in March that it could halt manufacturing of the season because of the pandemic

Warner then claims that “South Park” and its creators moved ahead with the manufacturing of different forms of content material, similar to two pandemic-themed specials that aired between September 2020 and March 2021.

Warner additional alleges the scheme was within the works when Paramount’s subsidiary MTV signed a cope with the “South Park” creators in 2021, which referred to as for unique content material for Paramount+, reportedly value $900 million.

“We imagine that Paramount and South Park Digital Studios launched into a multi-year scheme of unfair commerce practices and deception, flagrantly and repeatedly breaching our contract, which clearly gave HBO Max unique streaming rights to the present library and new content material from the favored animated comedy South Park,” a Warner Bros. Discovery spokesperson mentioned in a press release Friday.

The showdown comes as streaming companies have been vying for subscribers and trying to attain profitability within the close to future. Media corporations have been spending billions of {dollars} on content material to draw prospects, and have just lately begun slicing prices as elevated competitors has led to slowing subscriber development.

This week Warner Bros. Discovery reported an enormous loss in its quarterly earnings as the corporate faces a softening promoting market, which has weighed on its income. The corporate mentioned, nonetheless, that it added 1.1 million world streaming subscribers, bringing its complete to 96.1 million for companies together with HBO Max and Discovery+. Losses for the streaming enterprise additionally narrowed to $217 million for the interval, “a $511 million year-over-year enchancment.”

Warner Bros. Discovery plans to launch a mixed HBO Max and Discovery+ streaming service this spring.

In the meantime, Paramount mentioned final week Paramount+ hit 56 million subscribers in its most up-to-date quarter. The corporate plans to extend the worth of its streaming service when it combines Paramount+ and Showtime later this 12 months. Paramount additionally mentioned it was affected by the powerful advert market.


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