Who would have thought that a satirical animated sitcom criticized by parents’ groups for teaching kids potty words and disrespectful attitudes would become one of our most hallowed TV institutions? No, not that hallowed TV institution. The other one.
The creators of South Park have just signed a multi-year renewal deal with Comedy Central that will carry the show through the next five years, bringing the series total to more than 300 episodes. (“Amateurs,” Al Jean mutters dismissively.) South Park debuted on Comedy Central in 1997, and has been credited as a major factor in the network’s growth; “South Park is one of the foundations on which the house of Comedy Central has been built,” Viacom music and entertainment group chief Doug Herzog says. Series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, known for their frequently off-the-cuff production style, will continue to write and direct every episode of the show.
Meanwhile, Parker and Stone and company have also signed a record-breaking deal with Hulu, which will pay $192 million over five years for the right to stream every episode of the series. (This is the most Hulu has ever paid for streaming rights to a TV show; its recent Seinfeld deal cost the service $180 million.) According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Hulu deal will include not only past seasons of the show, but new episodes the day after they air on Comedy Central.
Hulu now also runs the South Park website, which for years has been uploading full episodes of the show for free and will continue to feature a “curated selection” of episodes. Stone says that he finds the Hulu deal vindicating: “It comes full circle since the tech guys came to Hollywood and said you better give us your stuff for free to put online or else it will be taken from you anyway,” he says, adding, “We don’t make content. We make television. And that’s now what digital understands it has to pay for.”