South Park episodes available free online

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Trey Parker in 2007.
Image: ensceptico.

Episodes of the Colorado-based cartoon comedy television series South Park have been made available for free via streaming video on the website SouthParkStudios.com. Full-length episodes from the past 12 seasons of South Park can be seen on the site, as well as behind-the-scenes clips and information on upcoming episodes.

After new episodes of the program air on Comedy Central they will be added to the site for one week, but will then be unavailable for the next 30 days before being added to the site's archives, due to contractual obligations. SouthParkStudios.com was relaunched with free streaming episodes on March 19, and as of Comedy Central's announcement Tuesday the site had three million hits, two million video plays and one million full-episode streams. 168 of the series' 169 episodes are currently available on the site.

The site is currently in a beta format and is ad supported, but visitors can watch an unlimited number of episodes. Streaming episodes are uncensored, and each episode will have between three and four advertisements. The website also has news, games, blogs and a feature where users can create South Park avatar characters in their likeness. Fans can also choose from 3,000 episode clips from the show to embed on their blogs or websites. The website was created by WPP agency Schematic, with Toyota and Virgin as launch sponsors.

Matt Stone in 2007.
Image: ensceptico.

SouthParkStudios.com launched this past summer with games and other media content, in a deal between South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker where their contract with Comedy Central was extended for three years and the cable television channel agreed to split online ad revenue 50-50. Matt Stone commented on the three-year contract to produce more episodes of the series: "Three more years of South Park will give us the opportunity to offend that many more people ... And since Trey and I are in charge of the digital side of South Park, we can offend people on their cellphones, game consoles, and computers too. It's all very exciting for us."

Cquote1.svg We got really sick of having to download our own show illegally all the time, so we gave ourselves a legal alternative. Cquote2.svg

Matt Stone and Trey Parker

Parker and Stone released a statement about the website: "We got really sick of having to download our own show illegally all the time, so we gave ourselves a legal alternative." Parker and Stone don't think that the move will affect DVD sales of past seasons, because fans will still want to own episodes in a "hard copy" format.

The website is managed by South Park Digital Studios LLC, a joint venture of Parker and Stone and Comedy Central. Anne Garefino, general manager of South Park Digital Studios stated: "One goal in moving forward is to make every episode of South Park available worldwide ... Currently, full episodes are not available in the U.K., Australia and a few other foreign territories, but we're not far off from making that happen. We have some contractual issues to sift through but we're getting there."

On the move to make the episodes available for free, Sam Thielman of Variety wrote: "It's a good time for Parker and Stone to distance themselves from the YouTube community given Comedy Central parent Viacom's protracted lawsuit against the Web-based video distrib, which features clips from the show." Viacom is suing YouTube for US$1 billion in damages relating to video clips displayed on the video-sharing website. Richard Menta of MP3 Newswire wrote: "With all their content already out there Stone, Parker and Viacom realized offering South Park episodes online directly is a low risk proposition. They might as well draw some ad revenue from it."


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Sources

Wikipedia Learn more about South Park and Streaming media on Wikipedia.
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