ViacomCBS said it has inked a $900 million deal for new episodes of "South Park," even as growth in streaming and advertising lifted the company’s second-quarter results.
The New York-based media giant, which owns MTV, Nickelodeon and CBS, said Thursday that it cut a lucrative deal with "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone to make new episodes of the bawdy cartoon for its Comedy Central network and create several spinoff movies for its Paramount+ streaming service.
The new "South Park" contract, which will pay Stone and Parker $900 million over the next six years, is one of the richest deals in TV history, and it marks the importance of streaming to ViacomCBS, whose Paramount+ service trails the likes of Netflix with 207 million global subscribers and Disney+ with 109 million global subscribers.
The first project under the new deal will be a movie set in the world of "South Park" that will debut some time before the end of the year, the companies said, adding that the contract includes six more cycles of the cartoon and 14 made-for-streaming movies.
The move may help ViacomCBS lure in suitors hoping to build up their library of movies and TV shows in order to compete with media giants like Netflix, Disney and WarnerMedia, which is set to complete its merger with Discovery next year.
In order to accelerate that growth, the company added Thursday that it will launch Paramount+ on Comcast-owned Sky platforms in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland and Austria in 2022 as part of a new multi-year deal.
At the end of June, ViacomCBS logged more than 42 million subscribers across its streaming services, which include Paramount+, Showtime and BET+.
Shares of ViacomCBS rose more than 6 percent in midday trading Thursday, recently changing hands at $41.21.
ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish cited the importance of streaming to the company’s growth, noting that in the second quarter, the firm posted net income of $995 million or $1.50 a share versus year-ago income of $453 million or 83 cents. Adjusted EPS totaled 97 cents. Revenue rose 8 percent to $6.56 billion. Analysts expected EPS of 96 cents on revenue of $6.49 billion.
"This growth was driven by the power of the service’s differentiated content strategy and expanding content slate," Bakis said of the results. "Looking ahead, we’re excited about our opportunity to build on this momentum, as we scale Paramount+’s content offerings across genres and expand our reach with global audiences."
Rumors of a potential merger between cable giant and NBCUniversal owner Comcast have been bandied about amid reports that CEO Brian Roberts met with ViacomCBS chairman Shari Redstone in June, but it is not clear if those talks will lead anywhere.
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