The 23rd season of South Park finished as the top-rated comedy on cable for the seventh consecutive year. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg in terms of just how much the show was watched in 2019.
Viewers of the show watched a staggering 30 billion minutes of the long-running series on linear TV in 2019, according to Comedy Central. That figure, which includes first-run episodes and repeats, jumped by 36 percent over 2018 and is the equivalent of more than 57,000 years.
It does not include streaming, which would surely push the figure considerably higher. The ViacomCBS network says season 23, which wrapped Dec. 11, drove 113 million views (a fungible stat, depending on the platform) on digital and social platforms, up 53 percent from season 22.
The massive consumption of South Park also points to why HBO Max was willing to pay up to $500 million for streaming rights to the series. The show currently streams on Hulu but will move to WarnerMedia’s HBO Max in June 2020.
The 30 billion minutes of viewing on Comedy Central likely puts South Park in the upper echelons of viewing. Netflix users watched 32.6 billion minutes of Friends and 52 billion minutes of The Office in 2018.
“South Park is unequivocally among the best — setting the satirical gold standard, with a consistent finger on the comedy pulse,” Kevin Reilly, chief content officer at HBO Max and president at TBS, TNT and truTV, said in announcing the deal. “Audiences have connected with Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny — either alive or dead — for over 20 years, and we look forward to connecting these characters to new audiences on HBO Max.”
For season 23, South Park averaged 1.4 million viewers per episode, including three days of delayed viewing. It averaged a 1.29 rating among adults 18-49 (within Comedy Central’s coverage area) and a 1.9 among men under 35.