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Warner Bros. ‘South Park’ Licensing Deal Lawsuit Partially Dismissed

Several claims have been dismissed within the suit that alleges 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.

Warner Bros. Discovery’s ongoing lawsuit against Paramount for breach of a $500 million licensing deal has been trimmed, reports THR. Justice Margaret Chan ruled against Warner Bros., determining earlier this week that Paramount did not violate any state consumer protection laws or engage in any verbal trickery that could lead to confusion on which streamer held exclusive rights to the franchise. Chan also concluded that viewers could distinguish the difference between each streamers’ offerings, and that Paramount acted in good faith.

Filed on February 24th in the New York state Supreme Court, WBD’s original suit alleged 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 claimed, “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.”

HBO Max’s original 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 new season and six from the second were delivered to HBO Max, the suit alleged. The last guaranteed season only consists of six episodes, for a total of 14 instead of 30. WBD claimed that new episodes are worth 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.

“Although plaintiff may take issue with defendants’ characterization of the Post-COVID Content and Streaming Wars Content as ‘events’ or ‘movies’ as an attempt to circumvent the terms of the 2019 Agreements, defendants’ literally true public representations are not actionable,” Chan wrote.

WBD’s remaining claims consist of breach of contract, tortuous interference with contract, and unjust enrichment. 

Laurén Alexa's picture

Cybersecurity specialist by day, investigative journalist by night.