Westworld and other exiled HBO Max shows will be free with ads ... elsewhere

Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores in Westworld
(Image credit: John P. Johnson/HBO)

Westworld may be getting kicked off HBO Max, but you'll still be able to watch it. And for free. In the latest surprising twist in HBO Max's 2022, the company announced that its popular sci-fi drama is one of many shows that will be living on but over on free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) services.

Today (Dec. 14), HBO Max sent an email to the press titled "HBO Max Content Moving to FAST," which breaks down the news that Warner Bros. Discovery (HBO Max's parent company) executives have "recently decided to license certain HBO and HBO Max original programming to third party FAST services to be part of a packaged offering."

Popular FAST services include Roku's The Roku Channel, Amazon's freevee and Viacom's Pluto. The announcement also notes that a Warner Bros. Discovery FAST service is in the wings and that it will "announce additional details about its own long-term WBD FAST offering in 2023." It also confirms reports from the past few days that state "As we prepare for this transition, these series will be coming off of the HBO Max service in the coming days. "

This announcement is the first time we've heard that The Time Traveler’s Wife was joining Westworld and The Nevers as the rare HBO shows getting booted from the platform. Up until now, only HBO Max Originals (the branding served as a delineator) were getting removed.

Every HBO and HBO Max show moving to FAST services

HBO did not announce the new homes for the following shows — or provide confirmation that they've found destinations:

  • Westworld – seasons 1, 2, 3, 4
  • The Nevers – season 1
  • Raised by Wolves – seasons 1, 2
  • FBOY Island – seasons 1, 2
  • Legendary – seasons 1, 2, 3
  • Finding Magic Mike – season 1
  • Head of the Class – season 1
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife – season 1

Other HBO Max shows are getting erased

That said, there's another set of shows that are leaving HBO Max. These series are in earlier stages, and haven't been 'designated' for FAST services:

  • Gordita Chronicles – season 1
  • Love Life – seasons 1, 2
  • Made for Love – seasons 1, 2
  • The Garcias – season 1
  • Minx – seasons 1, 2

Analysis: At least these shows will be free

The state of HBO Max is precipitous to say the least. According to The Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab), a securities filing made today (Dec. 14) shows that Warner Bros. Discovery plans to make more write-offs and impairments related to content and development than previously anticipated. The cost range is now $2.8 billion to $3.5 billion, up between $800 million and $1 billion from October's projections.

Where will the company find these savings? Are there more Batgirls lying around to get axed before production finishes? Minx, for example, was canceled before its filmed second season could even air.

So far, the cuts have come from strategically selected titles, leaving the best HBO Max shows and best movies on HBO Max unharmed. The fact that HBO Max is considering finding homes for these shows (with ways it can profit) is a small solace for fans. TV shows aren't known for being released in box sets as much as they used to be, and shows getting erased from HBO Max gives folks reason to wonder where their favorites would go were they to get the same treatment. 

All the while, we at Tom's Guide think about how we call HBO Max the best streaming service. That crown almost feels like it's slipping away, and HBO Max's next moves — as well as the upcoming HBO Max and Discovery Plus merger have created a unique version of Succession in the streaming wars.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.