Unlike death-prone Kenny, it seems that South Park will live forever.
The show is going to air for at least another five years—which will take it through Season 23 in 2019—thanks to two new deals announced today with Comedy Central and Hulu, which has exclusive SVOD rights to all seasons of the show. The move adds a three-year extension to the two years remaining on both deals.
What's unusual about the extensions, first reported by The Hollywood Reporter, is that Hulu's deal will pay Comedy Central's parent company (Viacom) and the show's creators (Trey Parker and Matt Stone) a reported $192 million over five years. The money will be split 50/50 between both parties. Parker and Stone will take home a reported $110 million over five years from both agreements.
Its a rare instance of money from a digital company being used to underwrite production costs for a network production, but not the first of its kind. CBS has previously inked deals with streaming services for its three big summer shows, helping it offset the budgets of those series. It partnered with Amazon for Under the Dome and Extant, and with Netflix for this summer's new entry, Zoo. "We wouldn't be able to do those shows, otherwise," CBS Entertainment chair Nina Tassler told Adweek in May.
Today's extension news comes a year after Hulu first landed exclusive SVOD rights to all seasons of South Park in an $80 million-plus deal. That was one of the first building blocks in Hulu's aggressive strategy to take on Netflix and Amazon, with a combination of high-profile original series (including 11/22/63, from J.J. Abrams and Stephen King, starring James Franco) and big SVOD acquisitions like Seinfeld and Empire.
While Parker and Stone used to say they couldn't imagine doing South Park past age 40 (Parker is now 45; Stone is 44), they have more recently made peace with sticking with the show for the long haul. Speaking with IGN at E3 last month, Stone said, "We won't stop until we get canceled. We're renewing."
A big part of that is making South Park feel fresh after 18 seasons. "We both feel that South Park is sort of the band," Parker said last year. "We go into the studio once a year, and we make an album, and each episode is a song. That's what we love about it, that we still write and direct every episode ourselves…. It would be pretty jarring to live without it."
Audiences feel the same way. During Season 18, South Park remained the No. 1 comedy series on cable last year among adults ages 18 to 49 and men 18-34, and was also the top-rated show in both broadcast and cable on Wednesdays last season with men 18-34 and 18-24.
Season 19 premieres Sept. 16.