Legal Showdown Unveiled: Paramount Secures Victory as Judge Rules on Claims in Warner Bros. 'South Park' Streaming Lawsuit

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Business / Friday, 17 November 2023 17:45

"Legal Victory for Paramount: Judge Rules in Favor on Select Claims in Warner Bros.' 'South Park' Streaming Lawsuit"

In a recent development, New York State Supreme Court Justice Margaret Chan delivered a verdict favoring Paramount Global in certain aspects of the ongoing legal battle with Warner Bros. Discovery over the streaming rights to the enduring animated series, "South Park." The judge specifically stated that Paramount did not run afoul of state consumer protection laws when its streaming platform, Paramount+, hosted exclusive "South Park" specials.

This decision stems from a lawsuit filed in February by Warner, accusing Paramount of misleadingly withholding specials and other content to bolster the offerings on Paramount+. Paramount, however, remained silent in response to CNBC's request for comment, while Warner Bros. chose not to comment on the matter.

The legal saga began in 2019 when Warner paid a hefty $500 million to Paramount for the streaming rights to the extensive back catalogue of "South Park" episodes, intended for HBO Max, now known as Max. Paramount had suggested sharing the rights across its streaming platforms, a proposal that Warner rejected. Despite being a staple on Paramount's Comedy Central channel, Paramount later released "South Park: Post Covid" in 2021 and "South Park: The Streaming Wars" in 2022 exclusively on Paramount+—sparking the lawsuit where Warner seeks hundreds of millions of dollars, alleging overpayment and breach of agreement by Paramount.

While Warner's claims of breach of contract, tortuous interference, and unjust enrichment remain in play, Justice Chan dismissed Paramount's counterclaim in April, seeking $50 million in unpaid fees from Warner. Chan ruled that Paramount did not make false statements in describing specials in the original 2019 agreement. Additionally, Chan rejected Warner's assertion that Paramount's actions misled customers, stating that it was merely a "private contract dispute" and did "not harm consumers."

The legal saga continues, with a preliminary conference ordered between the two parties on December 13, setting the stage for further proceedings in this high-stakes dispute over the beloved animated series.

"As the gavel falls on this latest chapter in the legal drama surrounding 'South Park,' Paramount emerges with a partial victory, securing the favor of New York State Supreme Court Justice Margaret Chan on specific claims. The ruling dispels allegations that Paramount violated state consumer protection laws in hosting exclusive 'South Park' specials on its streaming platform, Paramount+. The clash between media giants Paramount Global and Warner Bros. Discovery continues, with the intricate web of accusations and counterclaims weaving a complex narrative.

Despite the legal skirmish, Paramount's silence in response to CNBC's inquiry and Warner Bros.' decision to withhold comments maintain an air of mystery surrounding the implications of this verdict. The initial rift, stemming from a 2019 agreement worth $500 million, where Warner paid Paramount for streaming rights, has evolved into a multifaceted dispute involving overpayment allegations, breach of contract claims, and assertions of deceptive practices.

While Paramount's counterclaim seeking $50 million in unpaid fees was dismissed by Justice Chan in April, the core contentions of breach of contract, tortuous interference, and unjust enrichment from Warner remain on the legal battleground. The dismissal of Warner's claim that Paramount misled customers is a pivotal point, labeled as a 'private contract dispute' by Justice Chan, emphasizing the focus on legal intricacies rather than potential harm to consumers.

As the legal journey unfolds, a preliminary conference on December 13 sets the stage for the next chapter in this high-stakes saga. The fate of 'South Park's' streaming rights and the financial implications for both Paramount and Warner hang in the balance, adding an extra layer of anticipation to this ongoing legal spectacle."