Paramount Suing HBO Max Parent Company Warner for $50M Over 'South Park'
Who could have ever guessed that a quartet of vagrant, foul-mouthed cartoon children would be at the heart of a multi-million dollar squabble between two titans of the industry?
The foul-mouthed adult cartoon “South Park” has been at the heart of an ugly legal battle between Paramount Global and Warner Bros. Discovery, and their respective streaming platforms of Paramount Plus and HBO Max.
According to CNBC, the crux of the issue stems from a February lawsuit from Warner Bros. Discovery, who alleged at the time that Paramount had breached its contract by producing exclusive “South Park” content on the then-fledgling Paramount Plus.
Worth noting, Paramount Global owns Comedy Central, which owns “South Park.”
Paramount Global is countersuing Warner Bros. Discovery for the ‘South Park’ streaming rights for $52M.
They claim WBD is streaming South Park on HBO Max without paying for the new episodes nor did they had the rights to license the specials. pic.twitter.com/C3NBD0dYMx
— Cartoon News Network (@CCNCartoonNews) April 20, 2023
The deal between Paramount and Warner Bros., then, was for the raunchy cartoon to stream on HBO Max — despite being owned by a different parent company. In the February lawsuit, Warner claimed that it had agreed to pay more than $500 million to license episodes of “South Park” to buttress the programming offered on HBO Max.
Warner Bros. then claimed that, during the bidding process, Paramount had requested to share those streaming rights with Paramount Plus. Warner obviously declined that, and has since claimed that Paramount reneged on the specifics of the deal and withheld content.
“We believe that Paramount and South Park Digital Studios embarked on a multi-year scheme of unfair trade practices and deception, flagrantly and repeatedly breaching our contract, which clearly gave HBO Max exclusive streaming rights to the existing library and new content from the popular animated comedy ‘South Park,’” a Warner Bros. representative told CNBC.
That lawsuit came in February.
Today, however? Paramount Global is hitting back at Warner Bros. Discovery with some scathing accusations of their own.
Paramount Global has, effectively, accused Warner Bros. Discovery of being delinquent on owed payments. Now, these are not the normal payments everyday Americans make on a credit card or loan.
No, Warner Bros. Discovery allegedly owes Paramount Global over $50 million in unpaid fees.
Paramount Global alleges that Warner Bros. Discovery has already skipped its December 2022 and March payments. Each of those payments was for over $26 million each.
Paramount Global also added the withering observation that there were “indications that (Warner Bros. Discovery) will continue to withhold the $225 million in license fees still owed for the rest of the five-year term.”
In a separate statement, a Paramount Global representative offered a scathing rebuke of the original February lawsuit.
“Warner Bros. Discovery has indefensibly refused to pay more than $50 million it owes for South Park content that it has undisputedly received, and which HBO Max continues to air and exploit,” a Paramount representative said via a statement, per CNBC. “Warner Bros. Discovery’s argument that Paramount Global was required to deliver additional South Park content is baseless and wholly unsupported by the parties’ agreement. Furthermore, it certainly does not justify WBD’s refusal to pay for immensely valuable content all of which it has received and from which it continues to profit.”
Warner Bros. Discovery has a theory, based on the February lawsuit, that this “scheme” was concocted in 2021, when Paramount subsidiary MTV signed a $900 million deal for “exclusive” Paramount Plus content with the creators of “South Park.”
It’s easy to see why South Park is such a valued commodity.
Despite the adult nature of the show, it’s one of the few “mainstream” shows still running that is wholly unafraid of political correctness. That gives the show a very rare appeal to both right-leaning and left-leaning viewers.
As of this writing, “South Park” is available on both Paramount Plus and HBO Max — though certain specials and episodes are only on the former streaming service.
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