The removal of the “Sesame Street” episodes and other recent content by HBO Max appears to be part of new owner Warner Bros. Discovery’s belt-tightening moves, aimed at reducing streaming-content payment obligations.
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.
Warner Bros. Discovery confirmed that HBO Max removed several older episodes of “Sesame Street” this week.
“‘Sesame Street’ is and has always been an important part of television culture and a crown jewel of our preschool offering,” an HBO Max spokesperson said in a statement to Variety. “We are committed to continuing to bring ‘Sesame Street’ into families’ homes,” including with Season 53 premiering this fall and the 400-plus episodes of the most recent and past seasons that remain on Cartoonito on HBO Max.
Sesame Workshop reps did not respond to requests for comment. Select “Sesame Street” episodes continue to be available on PBS Kids and the Sesame Street channel on YouTube.
HBO and Sesame Workshop first struck an agreement in 2015, providing a new revenue stream for “Sesame Street,” while granting HBO rights to run new episodes of the landmark series first before they appeared on its longtime home, PBS. Their current agreement keeps new “Sesame Street” seasons first-run on HBO Max through 2025.
Still available for now on HBO Max, in addition to remaining episodes of the “Sesame Street” series, are the 10-episode “Sesame Street Mecha Builders,” seven seasons of “My Sesame Street Friends” and “The Magical Wand Chase” special featuring Elmo and Abby. The streamer also will be premiering additional episodes of “Sesame Street Mecha Builders” later in 2022.
The removal of the “Sesame Street” episodes comes after HBO Max on Wednesday said at least 36 more titles will be leaving the service this week. That includes 20 original HBO Max shows, including teen drama “Generation,” animated anthology series “Infinity Train” and kids’ show “Summer Camp Island,” as well as several “Sesame Street” specials. That’s in addition to the previously announced titles exiting HBO Max this month, including all eight of the original “Harry Potter” films.
Warner Bros. Discovery said the decision to pull the titles from HBO Max were tied to the pending combo of the platform with Discovery+. “As we work toward bringing our content catalogs together under one platform, we will be making changes to the content offering available on both HBO Max and Discovery+,” the company said in a statement. “That will include the removal of some content from both platforms.”
In recent weeks, HBO Max also quietly removed six Warner Bros. films and HBO shows such as “Camping,” “Vinyl,” “Mrs. Fletcher” and “Run.” Under Warner Bros. Discovery’s stewardship, HBO Max also recently killed Greg Berlanti’s DC series “Strange Adventures” and a “Wonder Twins” live-action movie.