Streaming service catalogues are continually in flux, but something a little bit weird seems to be happening over at HBO Max. A bunch of content is disappearing from the catalogue, but the strange thing is that it appears to be stuff that is owned by parent company Warner Bros Discovery.
This trend was first noticed by fans of various animated series, since shows from Warner-owned Cartoon network and Adult Swim were disappearing from HBO Max. This was later extended (opens in new tab) to live-action series from TBS and TNT networks, including Chad, The Last O.G. and Snowpiercer.
It isn't just CN / AS shows getting weirdly purged now. A few TBS / TNT shows have disappeared from HBO Max, including Snowpiercer, The Last O.G., and Chad.July 1, 2022
The latter two have been cancelled in recent months, but Chad’s second season is due to debut sometime later this summer. It’s a very weird situation all round, made even weirder by the fact Full Bloom, an HBO Max original that was being promoted on Twitter (opens in new tab) last week, has also vanished.
So the question is, why? Why pull content you own from your streaming catalogue?
It seems as though Warner’s merger with Discovery may be to blame. Back in March we heard reports that the newly-formed Warner Bros Discovery was planning on merging HBO Max with fellow streaming service Discovery Plus. The HBO Max Help Twitter account seemingly confirmed (opens in new tab) that removal of content is related to this.
Thanks for your interest in HBO Max content. As we work to bring together HBO Max and discovery+, we’re making some changes to our services. Part of that process includes the removal of select content. Thanks. ^SLJuly 1, 2022
Though why a merger would have to involve pulling content isn’t entirely clear. The only way it could make sense is if that content left HBO Max and immediately arrived on Discovery Plus — but even that seems pretty illogical.
It’s not just happening in the United States either, from the looks of things. A Reddit thread (opens in new tab) claims that all Romanian Originals have been removed from the catalogue without warning, and that Warner Bros Discovery may be trying to sell the content elsewhere.
A report from Vulture (opens in new tab) from last week cites sources saying that big changes will be coming to HBO Max as a result of the Discovery merger.
This shouldn’t be a huge surprise. New CEO David Zaslav has already made sweeping changes since the two companies merged — including killing the CNN Plus streaming service just weeks after it launched.
Not only could this mean a merger of HBO Max and Discovery Plus, it could also come with a name change. While HBO has brand recognition older than streaming, there are apparently a few worries about using it for a general streaming service. They include diluting the brand, lack of recognition outside the U.S. and the fact audiences may automatically associate ‘HBO’ with mature content.
Still none of that explains why content is vanishing from HBO Max in seemingly-increasing numbers. The merger may be the most likely explanation, but a weird gradual process without any sort of announcement is a really strange way to do it.
These sorts of situations are likely delicate and complicated to pull off, but a quick switch is always going to be better than a long, tortuous drawn-out process of disappearing content. If anything, that's only going to alienate audiences, and make them more skeptical of any changes that follow.
We’re just going to have to see how this plays out, and what Warner Bros Discovery actually has planned for the immediate future. In the meantime you can subscribe to HBO Max for $10 $15 a month, and Discovery Plus for $5-$7 a month — how much you pay depends on how much you’re willing to tolerate ads.
There are still plenty to enjoy, after all, so check out our list of the best shows and movies on HBO Max if you need something to watch.