Variety is reporting that the profanity-laden South Park cartoon series has been syndicated to more than 40% of the U.S. including 8 of the top 10 markets. South Park, which remains cable channel Comedy Central's most highly rated show, has already racked up a backlog of 111 episodes and has been renewed for two more 15-episode seasons. Debmar Studios, which is syndicating the series, has nixed approximately 15 of the 111 episodes because, according to Variety, 'the raunchiness is so rampant throughout the half-hour, they can't be fixed.' The rest of the South Park episodes will be edited in order to meet broadcast standards. Currently even the edited South Park episodes will probably be only suitable for showing post-11pm (ET, PT). Variety notes that Debmar officials hope that standards will loosen enough by 2005 to allow the series to be shown at 7pm (ET, PT), but judging from recent statements emanating from the FCC, further 'relaxing' of standards may not be in the offing.
For retailers in the major urban markets where South Park will be syndicated, the daily showings could spark new interest in the series. Although the flow of the South Park merchandise has slowed considerably since the heady days of the series' debut, DVD box sets and other items featuring the world's most profane third graders could create interest if the series does well in syndication. Certainly the syndication of the Simpsons has kept that property viable in pop culture stores -- as evidenced by the fact that a Simpsons toy assortment was the only mass-market item to make Diamond's Top Ten Toy List for 2003 (and it came in at #2).