HBO Max shells out $500 million for 'South Park' exclusive streaming rights

All 23 seasons of "South Park," plus three upcoming ones, will stream exclusively on HBO Max after a bidding war that ultimately crossed $500 million.

In exchange for that hefty check, HBO Max will host one of the most popular and long-running comedies of all time. The satirical adult cartoon premiered in 1997, and despite plenty of competition from other raunchy programming, it remains one of the edgiest shows on TV. (It was recently banned in China; in response, a character in a recent episode declared, "F--k the Chinese government!")

Netflix was in the running to secure the streaming rights but eventually dropped out of discussions, Variety reports.

PHOTOS: "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone through the years

The show airs on Comedy Central, which is owned by Viacom. In accordance with the new licensing deal, new episodes will become available on HBO Max 24 hours after they first air on the network.

The deal marks another major chess move in the ongoing battle for online streaming dominance. Gearing up for war, in addition to HBO Max and Netflix, are Disney, Amazon, NBCUniversal, Apple and Hulu, all of which are assembling their own slates of premium content.

"South Park" was created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the duo also behind the hit Broadway musical "The Book of Mormon."