Netflix removes “Chappelle’s Show” after appeal from comedian

The comic's contract with ViacomCBS didn't require a licensing payment.
Comedian Dave Chappelle appears in a 2007 photograph.
Comedian Dave Chappelle appears in a 2007 photograph. (Image via Wikimedia Commons/Graphic by The Desk)

Netflix has pulled three seasons of the Comedy Central sketch program “Chappelle’s Show” following an appeal by the show’s co-creator, host and star Dave Chappelle.

The decision to pull the program came after an appeal from Dave Chappelle in a video message posted to his Instagram on Tuesday.

In the video, Chappelle complained that an agreement between ViacomCBS and Netflix didn’t include a royalty payment to him.

“[ViacomCBS] didn’t have to pay me because I signed the contract,” Chappelle said. “But is that right?”

At issue was an early agreement between Chappelle and what was then Viacom, Inc. that led to the development of Chappelle’s Show in early 2003. The agreement allowed Viacom and its future iterations to continue licensing the program across cable TV, home video and digital platforms.

Since then, ViacomCBS has streamed Chappelle’s Show on its Comedy Central app and most recently brought the program to its premium streaming service CBS All Access. Episodes from the program also stream on Pluto TV.

Earlier this month, ViacomCBS announced it had licensed the show to Netflix and AT&T WarnerMedia’s HBO Max. This didn’t sit well with the comedian, who complained during a monologue on “Saturday Night Live” that he received no payment for either deal.

In 2016, Netflix signed a multi-year agreement with Chappelle for the right to produce and stream several stand-up specials. As a goodwill gesture, Netflix agreed to remove all episodes of Chappelle’s Show at the comedian’s request.

“I like working for Netflix because when all those bad things happened to me, that company didn’t even exist,” Chappelle said. “And when I found out they were streaming Chappelle’s Show, I was furious — how could they not know? So you know what I did? I called them and I told them this makes me feel bad. And you want to know what they did? They agreed that they would take it off their platform just so I could feel better.”

Netflix has not publicly commented on the matter, but the move was enough to satisfy Chappelle.

“They agreed that they would take it off their platform just so I could feel better,” he said. “That’s why I fuck with Netflix — because they paid me my money, they do what they say they’re going to do, and they went above and beyond what you could expect from a businessman.”

Chappelle’s Show continues to stream on HBO Max, CBS All Access, Pluto TV and the Comedy Central app.

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