April 15, 2024

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Warner Bros. raises. Discovery sues Paramount over broadcast rights to ‘South Park’

Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman and Kenny McCormick attend Paley Media Center present a special retrospective event honoring 20 seasons of “South Park” at Paley Media Center on September 1, 2016 in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Tiprina Hobson | Getty Images

Warner Bros. raised. Discovery is suing Paramount Global looking to enforce the broadcast rights to “South Park,” setting the stage for a legal battle between the two media giants as the streaming wars intensify.

On Friday, Warner Bros. filed a lawsuit. Discovery sued Paramount, South Park Digital Studios and MTV Entertainment asking for hundreds of millions of dollars for what it believes is breach of contract.

Warner said it agreed in 2019 to pay more than $500 million, or roughly $1.69 million per episode, for the license to “South Park,” a long-running cartoon featuring foul-mouthed elementary school kids that aired on the affiliate’s cable television network. to Paramount Comedy Central in exchange for contracts for its streaming platform HBO Max.

During the bidding process for the rights to “South Park,” the recording said, Paramount asked if Warner Bros. Discovery would consider sharing the rights to the show to Paramount’s streaming service.

“Warner/HBO dismissed the proposal as ‘uninitiated’,” the lawsuit states.

However, in its lawsuit, Warner alleged that Paramount reneged on its contract and withheld the “South Park” specials and other related content. The lawsuit points to Paramount’s fledgling streaming service, Paramount+, as the cause.

A Paramount spokesperson denied Warner’s allegations in Friday’s lawsuit, adding that Warner has stopped paying licensing fees.

“We believe these allegations are without merit and look forward to proving this through the legal process,” a Paramount spokesperson said in a statement. We also note that Paramount continues to honor both parties’ contract by delivering new episodes of South Park to HBO Max, despite Warner Bros. Discovery’s failure and refusal to pay the licensing fees it owes Paramount for episodes past, and which HBO Max channel continues. in the broadcast.”

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Although the agreement called for HBO Max to receive the first episodes of the final season of “South Park” in 2020, Paramount said it notified Warner in March that it would halt production of the season as a result of the pandemic.

Warner then claims that South Park and its creators have moved forward with producing other types of content, such as two pandemic-themed specials that aired between September 2020 and March 2021.

Warner further claims the scheme was in the works when Paramount affiliate MTV signed a deal with the creators of “South Park” in 2021, which called for exclusive content for Paramount+, worth $900 million.

We believe Paramount and South Park Digital Studios have embarked on a multiyear scheme of unfair business practices and deception, flagrantly and repeatedly breaching our contract, which granted HBO Max exclusive streaming rights to the existing library of new content from the popular animated comedy. South Parka Warner Bros. Discovery spokesperson said in a statement on Friday.

The showdown comes as streaming services compete for subscribers and look to hit profitability in the near future. Media companies spend billions of dollars on content to attract customers, and have recently begun to cut costs as increased competition slows subscriber growth.

Warner Bros. announced. Discovery this week reported a big loss in its quarterly profit as the company faces a weak advertising market, which has hurt its revenue. The company said, however, that it added 1.1 million global streaming subscribers, bringing its total subscribers to 96.1 million for services including HBO Max and Discovery+. Losses for the streaming business also narrowed to $217 million for the period, “an improvement of $511 million year-over-year.”

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

Meanwhile, Paramount said last week that Paramount+ reached 56 million subscribers in its most recent quarter. The company plans to increase the price of its streaming service when it combines Paramount+ with Showtime later this year. Paramount also said it was affected by the difficult advertising market.