Warner Bros is suing Paramount over consequences of "South Park" The spokesman for Puerto Rico

NEW YORK – Warner Bros. Discovery Inc. sued Paramount Global, claiming that its competitor aired new episodes of the popular animated series “South Park” although Warner paid for the exclusive rights.

Warner signed a deal in 2019 that paid more than $500 million for the rights to existing and new episodes of the irreverent show, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in the New York state Supreme Court.

HBO Max, Warner’s streaming platform, is set to receive the first episodes of a new season of South Park in 2020. However, the company received notice that the Covid-19 pandemic forced production to halt, the lawsuit says.

Although Warner has exclusive rights to the show through 2025, the company alleges that South Park Digital Studios, which is producing the series and is a defendant in the lawsuit, offered Paramount two pandemic-themed specials, which they announced in September 2020 and March published 2021.

The lawsuit alleges that the pandemic specials should have been offered to Warner as part of the original contract. The move, which the lawsuit says was a “verbal hoax,” prompted fans of the series to flock to Paramount’s platform to see it. Nearly every episode of South Park premieres on Comedy Central, one of Paramount’s cable television channels, the lawsuit alleges.

The show’s creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, who created it in 1997 and oversee the franchise, are not named in the lawsuit.

Acquiring the streaming rights to “South Park” is a competitive process due to the potentially lucrative market that is attracting more subscribers, advertisers and a loyal fanbase that Warner says is primarily made up of young adults.

The 24-page court document also mentions a $900 million deal in 2021 between a Paramount subsidiary and South Park Digital Studios for exclusive content on the Paramount Plus streaming service, which launched the same year.

Warner claims the deal was a deliberate “plan” between Paramount, its subsidiary MTV Entertainment Studios, and South Park Digital Studios to “direct as much of the new South Park content as possible onto Paramount Plus to power this fledgling streaming platform.” to promote. “.

Warner paid $1,687,500 per episode and claims it has not yet received all episodes covered by the contract, resulting in more than $200 million in damages.

Paramount Global did not immediately respond to emails from The Associated Press seeking comment.