This is a must-read article in the New York Times about the new deal that South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have struck with Viacom. The deal, which is reportedly worth $75 million to its creators, includes a three-year extension of the series and the creation of SouthParkStudios.com, an incubator for new projects that, I believe, Parker and Stone will have an ownership stake in.
The most attention-grabbing part of the deal, and very likely a first for the creator of an animated TV series, is that Viacom has agreed to give Parker and Stone a 50-50 split of ad revenues on digital platforms, though not on television. The deal was made possible thanks to the duo’s lawyer, Kevin Morris, who in 1997 had the foresight to demand that the creators would share in any revenue not derived from the episode airings on cable. What was then a seemingly minor contract clause has today “created what may be a new model in the balance of power and money between creative artists and companies like Comedy Central,” as so succinctly put in this op-ed in the Times. The precedent-setting contractual victory of the South Park creators is a cause of celebration for all creators, as the antiquated exploitation-based business models of the entertainment industry crumble in this new digital age and artists slowly but surely begin to receive equitable compensation for their creations.