The suit alleges that special content for the adult animated series was created for Paramount+ using ‘grammatical sleight of hand’ despite a $500 million licensing deal granting streaming rights of all new and historic episodes to HBO Max.
Have the real ‘Streaming Wars’ officially begun? Warner Bros. Discovery has filed a lawsuit against Paramount for breach of a $500 million licensing deal which granted HBO Max streaming rights to South Park episodes, according to Variety.
Filed on February 24th in the New York state Supreme Court, the suit alleges that South Park special content was steered to Paramount+ instead of HBO Max “at the expense of Warner/HBO,” and that Paramount engaged in “multiple and flagrant duplicitous contortions of fact and breaches of contract.”
Describing potential losses, the suit claims, “Warner/HBO brings this lawsuit to vindicate its rights and recover the hundreds of millions of dollars in damages incurred as a result of Defendants’ misconduct.”
Although the original deal was made in 2019, HBO Max was not set to launch until May 2020. HBO Max’s bid for streaming rights guaranteed the company all historic seasons, as well as three new seasons of 10 episodes each, for a total of 30 episodes. However, only two episodes from the initial season and six from the second were delivered to HBO Max, the suit alleges. The last guaranteed season only consists of six episodes, for a total of 14 instead of 30. Warner Bros. Discovery claims that new episodes are with more than old ones, creating a huge profit loss.
Additionally, despite the streaming rights deal, Paramount subsidiary MTV brokered a $900 million deal with South Park creators Matt Parker and Trey Stone in 2021 for 14 “made for streaming” South Park movies exclusive to Paramount+, with a press release stating the deal would “help fuel Paramount+.” The suit argues that this deal diverted content already under contract for HBO Max to the Paramount streamer, and that “grammatical sleight-of-hand” was used to classify the content as “movies,” “films” or “events” instead of the “episodes” to which HBO Max was entitled.
Paramount denies all allegations. “We believe these claims are without merit and look forward to demonstrating so through the legal process,” a Paramount Global spokesperson said. “We also note that Paramount continues to adhere to the parties’ contract by delivering new South Park episodes to HBO Max, despite the fact that Warner Bros. Discovery has failed and refused to pay license fees that it owes to Paramount for episodes that have already been delivered, and which HBO Max continues to stream.”