Stan And Kyle From The Episode “Clubhouses.”
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It’s going down in “South Park.”
Paramount Global snapped back at Warner Bros. Discovery in a lawsuit over the streaming rights for the comedic cartoon, and is seeking more than $50 million in unpaid fees.
The counterclaim, which Paramount filed on Wednesday, comes nearly two months after the feud between the two media giants kicked off.
In February, Warner sued Paramount, seeking hundreds of millions of dollars for what it believed was a breach of contract. Warner alleged Paramount withheld specials and other related “South Park” content as its own fledgling streaming service, Paramount+, was lifting off.
Paramount filed a counterclaim on Wednesday, once again denying allegations that it didn’t live up to its end of the bargain in its contract to license the rights of “South Park” to Warner for its HBO Max streaming service.
The related “South Park” content was created during the height of the pandemic, when the show’s creators and staff couldn’t meet normally to turn out episodes and instead worked on features that ended up being double the length of the usual 22-minute installments.
“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 spokesperson said in a statement. “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.”
In the initial lawsuit, Warner said it agreed in 2019 to pay more than $500 million, or roughly $1.69 million per episode, to license episodes of the long-running cartoon that features bad-mouthed elementary school children for HBO Max. “South Park” has been airing on Paramount’s cable-TV network Comedy Central for decades.
Warner said in the earlier filing that during the bidding process for the streaming rights Paramount had allegedly asked if they could share the rights for Paramount+. Warner rejected that proposition, and said during the height of the pandemic, Paramount went back on its contract 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,'” according to a Warner spokesperson.
Warner has alleged that the scheme was concocted when Paramount’s subsidiary MTV signed a deal with the “South Park” creators in 2021, which called for exclusive content for Paramount+, reportedly worth $900 million.
Paramount alleges that Warner refused two payments of more than $26 million in licensing fees it was owed in December 2022 and again in March 2023, adding there has been “indications that it will continue to withhold the $225 million in license fees still owed for the rest of the five-year term.”
The company added that Warner’s HBO Max – which is being relaunched as Max – continues to feature the entire “South Park” library.