South Park In The Middle Of Huge Lawsuit, But It's Not For Prince Harry And Meghan Markle Parody

Stan, Cartman, Kenny and Tolkien Black in South Park
(Image credit: South Park Studios)

South Park returned to Comedy Central to kick off its latest season with some pretty big episodes, with the first two installments respectively taking aim at Kanye West’s anti-Semitic comments and the media tour headlined by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. While there were light rumors about the royal family offshoots potentially suing the animated series, those were soon denied, only for another monster of a lawsuit to rise up that has nothing to do with Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s satirizing in particular. 

Instead, the lawsuit in question is more of a battle between two of the biggest entertainment companies out there, with Warner Bros. Discovery going after Paramount Global for millions of dollars over the claims that the latter breached contracts with its straight-to-streaming South Park fare. Execs at HBO Max are less concerned with the content itself, and more that their platform is missing out on original content. (And not the episodes that were pulled from streaming by the platform itself.)

The suit stems back to a massive 2019 deal made in which WBD put up $500 million for streaming rights to South Park episodes, with the aim to showcase the 20+ seasons on the yet-to-debut HBO Max, which kicked off in May 2020. According to that deal, HBO Max was allegedly assured that Comedy Central would be producing at least three more seasons, with ten episodes per season. Those plans didn’t go through in full, however, with Season 24 consisting of just “The Pandemic Special” and “South ParQ Vaccination Special,” while Season 25 comprises the six episodes released in Feb-March 2022. The current season is reportedly following suit with another six-installment stretch, which would make 14 total eps, far lower than the 30 that were supposedly promised.

On top of all that, the lawsuit is pointing to the four currently available South Park specials that were produced solely as Paramount+ exclusives. According to the plaintiffs, Paramount “blatantly intended” to have its own streaming service come out advantageous over HBO Max, and blames the company for making “multiple and flagrant duplicitous contortions of fact.” 

And it sounds like Warner Bros Discovery is going for the jugular by way of financial recompensation, with the lawsuit saying (via Variety):

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.

Understandably, the lawsuit also touches on the gigantic 2021 deal, in which Trey Parker and Matt Stone signed on for $900 million, with expectations for another six seasons of the episodic TV show, with an additional 14 "specials" being produced specifically for Paramount+. According to WBD's legal team, those specials should have also fallen under the 2019 deal with HBO Max, with blame falling on Paramount execs for using "verbal trickery" in the contracts for the use of "specials" and "movies" to describe the new installments, thus separating them from the episodic content that was stipulated in WBD's deal.

Paramount Has Denied The Lawsuit's Claims

In response to the high-profile lawsuit, the legal team for Paramount Global has denied claims of contract-breaching, and countered with its own claim that WBD has yet to follow through with its own financial guidelines dictated by their prior agreement. Here's what was said in a statement: 

We believe these claims are without merit and look forward to demonstrating so through the legal process. 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.

While it's unclear how this lawsuit is going to end up, what is known is that fans can stream almost the entirety of South Park's Comedy Central run with an HBO Max subscription, while the four currently released specials are avaialble with a Paramount+ subscription

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.