(CNN) — Warner Bros. Discovery filed a lawsuit against Paramount on Friday, alleging that the rival media company breached its $500 million exclusive contract with HBO Max by airing “South Park” on its own streaming platform, Paramount+.
HBO Max is a unit of Warner Bros. Discovery, which also owns CNN.
Almost every episode of “South Park” airs first on Paramount-owned Comedy Central. In 2019, Paramount and the creators of “South Park” jointly auctioned streaming rights to the show’s first 23 seasons plus three new 10-episode seasons to HBO Max.
Before Discovery’s 2022 merger with Warner Bros, WarnerMedia, then owned by AT&T, agreed to pay nearly $1.7 million for the exclusive streaming rights to each episode of “South Park,” the lawsuit alleges. The first episodes of “South Park” season 24 were set to air in March 2020. Then the pandemic hit, and WarnerMedia was told new production on “South Park” would be halted, according to the lawsuit.
In March 2021, Paramount launched Paramount+, and Warner Bros. Discovery claims that Paramount, MTV, and South Park Digital Studios together “planned to divert as much new ‘South Park’ content as possible to Paramount+ in order to jumpstart that nascent platform.” streaming”.
The company also claims that it was promised 30 new episodes across three seasons, but has only received 14 episodes to date.
“We believe that Paramount and South Park Digital Studios engaged in a multi-year scheme of unfair business practices and deception, in flagrant and repeated breach of our contract, which clearly granted HBO Max exclusive streaming rights to the existing library and new content. from the popular animated sitcom South Park,” HBO Max said in a statement.
Paramount says these claims are “unsubstantiated.”
Paramount “continues to adhere to the parties’ contract by delivering new episodes of South Park to HBO Max, despite the fact that Warner Bros. Discovery has not and has refused to pay the licensing fees it owes Paramount for the episodes.” that have already been delivered, and that HBO Max is still streaming,” a Paramount Global spokesperson said.
The lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, also alleges that another $900 million settlement between Paramount affiliate MTV and South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone broke the terms of the contract in August 2021. This deal included 14 “made-for-streaming” “South Park” films that would premiere on Paramount+.
Warner Bros. Discovery claims that the defendants used language such as “movies,” “films,” and “events” to circumvent their contractual obligations.
“As Stone publicly described, now we can fuck your money,” the lawsuit claims of what he said in connection with the MTV deal.