South Park fans can binge on 12 seasons worth of Kenny and the gang — free of charge and,
for now, free of ads now ad-supported, courtesy of the latest remake of SouthParkStudios.com. The site’s video stash includes all of the full-length episodes from the past 12 seasons, behind-the-scenes info and clips of upcoming shows on demand. New episodes will go live for a week as soon as they premiere on Comedy Central, but due to contractual obligations will go dark for 30 days, and then get added to the library. So far, the streaming episodes and embeddable clips run without ad breaks, but a spokeswoman for Comedy Central told Variety the videos would include advertising later on. In the days between last Wednesday’s quiet relaunch and Tuesday’s announcement, Comedy Central reports that the site has received over three million page views, over two million video plays and more than a million streams of full episodes.
The site first launched last summer, offering games, forums, stills and mobile content when South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone extended their contract with Comedy Central by three years and agreed to equally split online ad revenue. SouthParkStudios.com has also teamed up with 65 Media to offer the Official Avatar Generator, where users can choose from millions of combinations to create South Park characters in their likeness.
Parker and Stone’s PR line about the revamped site is more true than funny: “We got really sick of having to download our own show illegally all the time, so we gave ourselves a legal alternative.”
It’s interesting to see the free availability of the show come full circle as it makes its way online, since it started as a viral video tape called The Spirit of Christmas. And, as Variety quipped, the move marks an opportunity for Parker and Stone to distance themselves from YouTube in the wake of Comedy Central’s parent company Viacom’s (NYSE: VIA) $1 billion copyright lawsuit against the video sharing site. Release.
Update: A representative for Comedy Central has told us that ads from Toyota and Virgin, the launch sponsors, have been added to the streamed episodes, which will not be available for download.