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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 Middle for Media presents particular retrospective occasion honoring 20 seasons of ‘South Park’ at The Paley Middle for Media on September 1, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.

Tibrina Hobson | Getty Pictures

Warner Bros. Discovery sued Paramount World seeking 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 tens of millions of {dollars} for what it believes was a breach of contract.

Warner stated 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 college youngsters 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 stated, Paramount allegedly requested whether or not Warner Bros. Discovery would think about sharing the rights to the present for Paramount’s personal streaming service.

“Warner/HBO rejected the proposition as a ‘non-starter,'” in keeping with 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 explanation.

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 sit up for demonstrating so by way of the authorized course of,” a Paramount spokesperson stated in an announcement. “We additionally observe that Paramount continues to stick to the events’ contract by delivering new South Park episodes to HBO Max, even though 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 known as for HBO Max to obtain the primary episodes of the most recent season of “South Park” in 2020, Paramount stated it notified Warner in March that it could halt manufacturing of the season on account of the pandemic

Warner then claims that “South Park” and its creators moved ahead with the manufacturing of different kinds of content material, corresponding 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 take care of the “South Park” creators in 2021, which known as for unique content material for Paramount+, reportedly price $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 stated in an announcement Friday.

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

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 stated, nonetheless, that it added 1.1 million international streaming subscribers, bringing its complete to 96.1 million for providers 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 stated final week Paramount+ hit 56 million subscribers in its most up-to-date quarter. The corporate plans to extend the value of its streaming service when it combines Paramount+ and Showtime later this yr. Paramount additionally stated it was affected by the robust advert market.


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