Dating back to policy choices enacted in the 1940s and 1970s, legislatures have always attempted to prevent media conglomerates from completely controlling both production and distribution. This created divisions of labor within companies dedicated to the separate pursuits, but it did not always preclude the two sides from doing business with one other. That is why, as streaming rights have inspired nine-figure bidding wars recently, Universal TV could sell The Office‘s rights to NBCU’s Peacock for $500 million and why Warner Bros. Television could sell Friends to WarnerMedia’s HBO Max for $450 million. Now, it’s South Park‘s turn.
The exclusive U.S. streaming rights for Comedy Central’s long-running animated hit is at the center of a $500 million bidding war, Bloomberg reports. South Park is currently available on Hulu, which is among the deep-pocketed bidders vying for the show’s library, per the outlet. Prior to Hulu, South Park could be watched on Netflix.
But, as Viacom Inc. is behind production companies Comedy Partners and South Park Studios, it is widely expected that the series will sell to ViacomCBS, which oversees the CBS All Access streamer. Might as well keep the high-profile property in-house even at an exorbitant cost. Regardless of the show’s ultimate destination, creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker are expected to make a pretty penny thanks to profit participations.
South Park is currently airing its 23rd season.
In addition to Friends and The Office, Netflix paid upwards of $500 million for five years of Seinfeld and HBO Max spent $600 million on The Big Bang Theory. Looking ahead, there are a handful of high-profile series that may inspire the next round of similarly lucrative bidding wars.