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“South Park” could depart Hulu as Viacom demands $500 million for rights

A still image from the 23rd season of South Park. (Photo: Viacom/South Park Studios/Handout)

Disney-owned streaming service Hulu could be losing one of their most-popular animated sitcoms.

Viacom is currently shopping around the second-run streaming rights to “South Park,” a cartoon about the antics of a small town in Colorado.

According to Bloomberg, around a half-dozen companies are vying for the rights to the sitcom when Hulu’s deal to carry the show lapses in 2020. Hulu is among the companies negotiating for the rights and has expressed paying more to keep the show on the platform as long as the price doesn’t skyrocket.

Viacom is reportedly asking for around $500 million in exchange for a multi-year deal, Bloomberg reported. The deal would presumably include the rights to a back library of 22 seasons as well as rights to its current 23rd season one day after the show is broadcast on Comedy Central. That deal would mirror Hulu’s current agreement with Viacom and South Park Studios, the producers of the show.

Netflix and Amazon are likely among those negotiating for the rights to stream the show. Apple is reportedly not part of these discussions, Bloomberg said. South Park previously streamed on Netflix before Hulu acquired rights to the show in 2014.

Bloomberg said Viacom’s asking price of around $500 million for the show is more than double what Hulu originally paid several years ago. But that may be an attainable price as the show — the longest-running scripted series on Comedy Central — continues to prove popular in certain key demographics.

South Park is expected to command around the same price as streaming rights to NBC’s “The Office,” but less per-episode cash compared to Sony’s “Seinfeld” and WarnerMedia’s “Friends.”

Viacom is also considering moving South Park to one of its own streaming services, including CBS All Access, a premium streaming service offered by CBS that will fall under Viacom’s control if a proposed merger between the two companies goes through.

South Park’s creators stand to profit nicely from whatever arrangement is made: Under a deal negotiated between creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone with Viacom in 2007, Viacom and the co-creators equally split profits on certain redistribution and licensing rights, including digital streaming.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).