South Park has come a long way since Trey Parker and Matt Stone made the Spirit of Christmas animated short as a Hollywood gag in 1995. Back then, The Spirit of Christmas was passed around on VHS copies. Then South Park premiered on Comedy Central in 1997. A few years later, Paramount began releasing every season of the animated comedy on DVD, and Blu-ray once the show transitioned to HD. Currently, every season of the series is streaming on Hulu.
All that may be about to change. During its presentation on the HBO Max streaming service, WarnerMedia made some announcements that pertain to South Park, currently airing its 23rd season on Comedy Central.
Where is ‘South Park’ going?
HBO Max Chief Content Officer Kevin Reilly announced that HBO Max would be the exclusive SVOD home of South Park. SVOD is short for Subscription Based Video On Demand, services like Netflix and Hulu where you play a fat rate for all the programming the service has to offer.
So if South Park is going exclusively to HBO Max for SVOD, that must mean they’ll disappear from Hulu. Now, SVOD does not impact Comedy Central airings, DVD productions or even pay per view video on demand. So if you buy your episodes on Amazon, Apple, Vudu or other services, they should remain available for purchase there.
When will ‘South Park’ leave Hulu?
HBO Max launches May 2020. Reilly did not make any mention of Hulu in his remarks, but if South Park lands on HBO Max in May, that only leaves a few more months left of its Hulu run.
Hulu is evolving its slate too. When Hulu acquired the animated comedy in 2014, they didn’t have The Handmaids Tale and its many now acclaimed original series. After the Disney/Fox merger, Hulu is acquiring more Marvel original shows, including four animated ones. So it’s entirely possible this is all copacetic and HBO Max just makes more sense for the show in 2020.
How Much ‘South Park’ Is There?
23 seasons amounts to more than 300 episodes. Current seasons produce 10 episodes but earlier seasons did as many as 14 or 17 episodes. You do the math.
Why Trey Parker and Matt Stone chose Hulu in 2014
Back in 2014, television was going digital. Viacom was trying to figure out how to put South Park online. Trey Parker and Matt Stone chose Hulu just because they liked Hulu’s interface.
The Viacom team had their own their own video player,” Stone told the Television Critics Association in 2014. “It was in the early stages of the technology of a video player back then. Hulu right out of the gate had a better technical experience than anybody. I think that we were always looking at Hulu’s player kind of with jealousy, with envy. We were like, ‘Man, we want our we want our show to always have the best possible presentation.’ I think, from the in the back of our mind, we are always looking for how do we partner with Hulu?”
Parker added, “We were first trying to figure out how we can rip off their player. How we can just steal their technology? And then, we realized we couldn’t. So we’d better just do it the old way.”
Streaming itself was the new evolution of television in 2014. Six years later, South Park will be on the newest streaming platform, HBO Max. Stone’s comments seem prescient.
“The exclusivity, I think, is just is something that reflects the business reality of what’s going on,” Stone said. “What worked six years ago doesn’t work as much as well now. And we have 250 episodes, and we’ve got plenty to feed different windows and different experiences. Even though I think South Park translates really well to phones and screens and everything else, we always like it to look the best and play the best.”