“South Park” snares blockbuster ViacomCBS deal

Veteran animated series renewed for at least sixty more episodes over six years AND fourteen movies

With South Park airing on another streaming service, there had to be some kind of way to get the show’s content on ViacomCBS’ Paramount Plus. After all, the show has been home to Comedy Central since 1997, also owned by ViacomCBS.

Well, how about fourteen made-for-TV movies made exclusively for Paramount Plus?

The new movies were announced Wednesday as part of a renewal deal with Comedy Central and ViacomCBS, consisting of six more seasons of South Park lasting through 2027. It’s one that’ll net creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone a whopping $900 million. South Park is the longest-running scripted series on Comedy Central and is currently the second longest-running adult animated series in television history only behind The Simpsons and just ahead of Family Guy

“Comedy Central has been our home for 25 years and we’re really happy that they’ve made a commitment to us for the next 75 years,” said Parker and Stone jokingly. “When we came to ViacomCBS with a different way to produce the show during the pandemic, Chris (McCarthy), Nina (Diaz), Keyes (Hill-Edgar) and Tanya (Giles) were immediately supportive and enabled us to try something new that turned out to be really well received. We can’t wait to get back to doing traditional South Park episodes but now we can also try out new formats. It’s great to have partners who will always take a chance with us.”

The fourteen movies – or “long-form presentations” are a way to get South Park content onto Paramount Plus given streaming rights to all off-Comedy Central episodes were sold to WarnerMedia’s HBO Max in a five-year, $500 million deal in a rare show of non-vertical integration, made just before Viacom and CBS reunited as Viacom cable content had yet to appear on CBS All Access, the former name of Paramount Plus. “That was one of the better things that happened in our financial life,Stone said in Bloomberg. “We took [South Park] to market and established its worth. That’s rarely done right now.”

Stone and Parker did exactly that when they took the off-network rights for an edited version to the show for local stations and sold them to Debmar-Mercury in 2004, airing from 2005 to 2012 in syndication and from 2009 to 2012 on the now-former WGN America. They also did so likewise with its first streaming deal, selling them to Hulu. Selected episodes are also available on the South Park Studios website Stone and Parker run. 

The fourteen planned movies are a way to skirt around the HBO Max deal. The first of those movies are expected to premiere later this year – the first since 1999 theatrical Bigger, Longer, and Uncut.

Despite its age, South Park has been a solid performer for Comedy Central. Part of the key to its longevity is some time ago, Parker and Stone reduced their episode output to about ten episodes per season, as opposed to the 20-22 episodes per year for some of Fox’s animated comedies, freeing them to do other projects such as the Broadway play The Book Of Mormon. Due to the pandemic, South Park was forced to curtail production, resulting in two specials – The Pandemic Special and The South ParQ Vaccination Special – the latter drawing 3.5 million viewers in its initial Comedy Central airing. 

Not all episodes of South Park are available to air or to stream as five episodes of the series were pulled permanently due to controversies.  

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