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

20 PHOTOS
Trey Parker and Matt Stone through the years
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Trey Parker and Matt Stone through the years
Trey Parker and Matt Stone during 1998 MTV Video Music Award Arrivals at Universal Studios in Universal City, CA, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 1283 -- Pictured: (l-r) Writers Matt Stone and Trey Parker during an interview with host Jay Leno on December 12, 1997 -- (Photo by: Margaret Norton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)
1998 South Park Creators Trey Parker And Matt Stone Star In The Movie "Baseketball." (Photo By Getty Images)
Los Angeles 'Baseketball' Premiere At The Universal Cineplex, Trey Parker, Matt Stone . (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)
Trey Parker & Matt Stone during 7th Annual Multicultural Diversity Awards at Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Sam Levi/WireImage)
Trey Parker and Matt Stone during "South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut" Los Angeles Premiere at Mann Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Trey Parker & Matt Stone during Playstation 2 Hollywood Launch Party at Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
387476 02: Trey Parker, left, and Matt Stone are the creators behind Comedy Central's new sitcom "That's My Bush," which kicks off an eight-episode run April 4 on the cable TV network. (Photo by Mark Fellman Comedy Central/Newsmakers)
Trey Parker and Matt Stone during Motorola 4th Annual Holiday Party - Arrivals at The Lot in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by J. Vespa/WireImage)
Matt Stone and Trey Parker during "South Park's" 5th Anniversary Party at Quixote Studios in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
Matt Stone and Trey Parker during Christina Milian, Trey Parker and Matt Stone Visit MTV's "TRL" - October 13, 2004 at MTV Studios, Times Square in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/WireImage)
Trey Parker and Matt Stone during "The Aristocrats" Los Angeles Premiere at The Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by J. Merritt/FilmMagic)
Matt Stone and Trey Parker during Comedy Central Celebrate 10 Seasons of "South Park" - Arrivals and Inside at The Lot in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: "South Park" creators Trey Parker (L) and Matt Stone attend Comedy Central's Emmy Awards party at the STK restaurant September 22, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 414 -- Pictured: (l-r) Matt Stone and Trey Parker during an interview with Jimmy Fallon on March 23, 2011 (Photo by Lloyd Bishop/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)
(L-R) Writer/creators of South Park Matt Stone and Trey Parker arrive at "South Park" 15th Anniversary Celebration at The Barker Hanger on September 20, 2011 in Santa Monica, California.
L-R) Honorees Matt Stone and Trey Parker arrive at the BAFTA Los Angeles 2012 Britannia Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills. (Photo by Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JULY 12: Writers Trey Parker (L) and Matt Stone attend Hulu's TCA Presentation And Cocktail Party at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on July 12, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images for Hulu)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 01: Trey Parker and Matt Stone attend The Paley Center for Media special retrospective event honoring 20 seasons of "South Park" at The Paley Center for Media on September 1, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Tara Ziemba/FilmMagic)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 04: Matt Stone and Trey Parker arrives ahead of The Book of Mormon opening night at Princess Theatre on February 4, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Sam Tabone/WireImage)
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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."

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