Warner Bros. Discovery has filed a lawsuit against Paramount for allegedly breaching its contract and “stealing” South Park content that it believes should have been exclusively streamed on HBO Max. According to Variety, the lawsuit was filed on Friday, and it claims that Paramount worked with South Park‘s creators and its subsidiary MTV to divert the new content to Paramount Plus.
The lawsuit alleges that Warner Bros. Discovery paid $1.6 million for each of the over 300 episodes of South Park, which it claims should have been licensed to them by the joint venture between South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Paramount called South Park Digital Studios (SPDS). The deal was supposed to bring the show’s entire library, as well as 30 new episodes for seasons 24, 25, and 26 to HBO Max until June 2025. However, Warner Bros. Discovery claims that it did not receive what it paid for and that Paramount induced SPDS to breach the contract.
Warner Bros. Discovery claims that SPDS failed to provide the promised ten new episodes for each season and charged them extra for the 50-minute Pandemic Special. The company also takes issue with the $900 million deal that Paramount made with the creators of South Park in August 2021, which will result in South Park exclusively streaming on Paramount Plus after the contract with HBO Max ends.
In addition, Warner Bros. Discovery claims that the studios used “grammatical sleight-of-hand” to characterize new content as “movies,” “films,” or “events” to sidestep SPDS’s contractual obligations. The lawsuit seeks significant monetary damages from Paramount, SPDS, and MTV, which will be determined at trial.
This lawsuit comes at a crucial time for Warner Bros. Discovery, which reported adding only 1.1 million subscribers across HBO, HBO Max, and Discovery Plus in the last quarter while losing another $2.1 billion. The company considers South Park to be a vital component of HBO Max and has referred to the show as “anchor” content that is central to branding and marketing. The company claims that having the series will help increase subscribers and subscription fees while drawing in advertisers.
In response to the lawsuit, a Paramount spokesperson said that the company believes “these claims are without merit” and that Warner Bros. Discovery has failed to pay license fees owed to Paramount for episodes that have already been delivered and continue to be streamed on HBO Max.