The Comedy Central show South Park has found itself in the middle of a bidding war as some of the top streaming platforms attempt to secure exclusive rights to the series. This bidding war comes just after news that South Park has been banned in China after airing an episode mocking China’s internet censorship practices.
According to Deadline and The Hollywood Reporter, bids for exclusive streaming rights to South Park could approach up to $500M. The series is particularly attractive to streamers as a well-established show now in its 23rd season. In addition to being well-received in America, South Park and its creators have become “folk heroes” in China with their recent episode “Band in China,” which spoke out against China’s extensive internet censorship. Tensions surrounding Chinese censorship have only increased in recent weeks. Earlier this month, the game development company Blizzard took punitive measures against competitive Hearthstone player Chung Ng Wai after he spoke in support of Hong Kong during an event.
As for South Park itself, the series could end up on any number of different platforms, including Hulu (where the series is currently hosted) or CBS All Access. Deadline has confirmed in their report that Netflix has dropped out of the bidding war, though some other streaming platforms are still vying for exclusive rights.
The high bids on South Park appear to be part of a wider trend among streaming platforms making high bids for series and huge overall deals with creators. Friends, The Office, Seinfeld and The Big Bang Theory each received over $400M from Comcast’s new streaming platform Peacock earlier this year. In addition, companies such as Amazon Studios and Netflix have signed overall deals with the likes of Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Patrick Moran, and Peter Morgan, with some deals exceeding $100M. When asked by The Hollywood Reporter about this big-spending mentality among streamers, one studio chief explained that we’re currently experiencing a sort of television arms race. “It’s either buy it now or it’s gone — and we’re gearing up for war now.”
The winner of the South Park bidding war has not yet been confirmed. The series is currently broadcasting on Comedy Central and is available to stream on Hulu.