12:43pm PT by Ryan Parker, Bryn Elise Sandberg
'South Park' Streaming Rights May Fetch Up to $500M in Bidding War
Trey Parker and Matt Stone, along with Viacom Inc., are nearing what's likely to be a rich deal for the streaming rights to South Park.
Numerous companies are bidding for exclusive U.S. streaming rights to the full library, with sources confirming to The Hollywood Reporter a potential price tag of up to $500 million. Bloomberg first reported the bidding.
Currently, the Comedy Central cartoon is available to watch on Hulu, which a source says is among the current bidders. Before that, it was on Netflix.
South Park is in the midst of its 23rd season and recently was scrubbed from the internet in China and banned after a critical episode about the Chinese government, which also mocked Hollywood for shaping its content to please Chinese censors. Because of that, Parker and Stone have become folk heroes to the protestors in Hong Kong.
In recent months, bidding wars have emerged for popular library shows as the streaming space grows increasingly crowded. Hits from the past like The Office and Friends represent safe bets for the emerging platforms as they look to lure new subscribers.
NBCUniversal's direct-to-consumer platform paid $500 million for exclusive streaming rights to The Office for five years, while WarnerMedia ponied up $425 million to move Friends to its HBO Max service for the same length of time. Netflix, for its part, spent north of $500 million over five years for Sony TV's Seinfeld, and HBO Max paid out upward of $600 million for The Big Bang Theory.
The eye-popping deals offer a considerable windfall for a show's creators, producers, writers and directors who had previously negotiated "points" in the series. Actors are less likely to have ownership of a show, unless they're a big star like Jerry Seinfeld or Steve Carell.
Parker and Stone created South Park while in college at the University of Colorado Boulder. The show started as a short animated Christmas card that was passed around Hollywood before Comedy Central greenlit a pilot.