HBO Max is really putting its name to the test lately.
In recent weeks, as its parent company Warner Bros. merged with Discovery, the service has been transformed, as part of the early steps towards its eventual merger with the new Warner Bros. Discovery’s other existing streaming service, Discovery+. They’ve canceled upcoming movies like Batgirl, and costly shows like DC’s Strange Adventures. They’ve also begun pulling down low-performing series and films. Just days ago, they announced around two dozen HBO Max originals were getting dropped, prompting shocked and devastated tweets from many of the creators of those shows.
Now the cuts have apparently hit one of the service’s most beloved shows. Variety reports that nearly 200 episodes of Sesame Street have disappeared from HBO Max in recent days. Here’s the full accounting of what’s gone:
As of Friday, HBO Max listed 456 total episodes of “Sesame Street,” with a selection from Seasons 1, 5 and 7 and the full lineup from the most recent Seasons 39-52. Of those, only 29 are from the earliest seasons. Previously, the streaming service offered about 650 total “Sesame Street” episodes, including episodes from Seasons 2-4, Season 6 and those from every season between 8 and 35.
The spinoff series The Not-Too-Late-Show With Elmo was also among the Max Originals that HBO announced it was dropping earlier this week. Variety says the decision to pare back Sesame Street episodes “appears to be part of new owner Warner Bros. Discovery’s belt-tightening moves, aimed at reducing streaming-content payment obligations.”
Sesame Street was one of the core titles announced for HBO Max before the service even launched. (A few years earlier, Sesame Workshop reached a deal with HBO to premiere episodes there before they debuted on its traditional home on PBS.) 456 episodes is still quite a bit Sesame Street available for streaming; given the show’s target audience, I find it hard to believe any of the kids who rely on HBO Max to watch Sesame Street would even notice the difference. Still, the amount of stuff being pulled down from HBO Max is not great news. What makes a streaming service appealing is the size of its catalogue, and HBO Max has consistently had one of the biggest since its launch. One hopes that will continue to be the case when the dust from this corporate merger clears.