A Major Lawsuit Over “South Park” Has Been Filed – But Has Nothing To Do With Meghan Markle And Prince Harry

The controversial lawsuit fodder that is the popular animated American TV show “South Park” has found itself at the center of a major lawsuit between two entertainment giants — but not over its edgy or offensive content.

HBO Max parent company Warner Bros Discovery (NASDAQ: WBD) on Friday filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court that accused Paramount Global (NASDAQ: PARA) of breaking a $500 million exclusive streaming rights deal through “verbal trickery.”

In October 2019, years before the merger of Warner Bros and Discovery, WarnerMedia, which was then owned by AT&T (NYSE: T), paid half a billion dollars, or $1,687,500 for the exclusive streaming rights for each “South Park” episode until 2025. The deal included the existing 23 seasons and 30 new episodes over three future seasons.

The first few episodes of season 24 were supposed to be delivered in March 2020 but Paramount told Warner that production had been halted due to the pandemic. The suit claims that only 14 of the 30 agreed-on new episodes — two episodes each for seasons 24 and 25 and six for season 26 —have so far been delivered.

They also allege that in spite of the company’s exclusive rights to the show, South Park Digital Studios (SPDS) — the joint venture between Paramount and “South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, who were also named as defendants in the suit — gave two pandemic-themed specials to Paramount. The specials were aired in September 2020 and March 2021.

The suit also cites a $900 million deal 2021 deal between Paramount subsidiary MTV Entertainment Studios and SPDS for exclusive content on Paramount+.

Warner accused the defendants of propping up the then newly-launched streaming platform Paramount TV+, which competes with HBO Max, with content that’s already been promised to HBO Max.

“We believe that Paramount and South Park Digital Studios embarked on a multi-year scheme of unfair trade practices and deception, flagrantly and repeatedly breaching our contract, which clearly gave HBO Max exclusive streaming rights to the existing library and new content from the popular animated comedy South Park,” HBO Max said in a statement.

The company, which is seeking over $200 million in damages, claims the defendants employed “grammatical sleight-of-hand” by describing new content as “movies,” “films,” or “events” to “side-step SPDS’s contractual obligations.”

The Worldwide Privacy Tour Episode

The show recently made headlines for the February 15 episode, called “The Worldwide Privacy Tour,” which featured a royal family that had an uncanny likeness to the British Royal family, particularly Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

The episode, which reportedly made Markle “upset and overwhelmed,” featured a “fictional” royal couple who begged to stay out of the spotlight — all while going on an episode of “Good Morning Canada” to promote a memoir, which in the “South Park” episode was called “WAAAAGH.”

The real-life former royal couple had recently walked away from the royal family, citing their desire for privacy, and then released a Netflix series and Harry’s memoir, “Spare.”

A representative for the couple has denied that they would be suing the show. 

Information for this briefing was found via Variety, the New York Post, AP News, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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