In the middle of 2022, as Netflix took a series of blows that sent stock prices crashing and massive layoffs, it was easy to point to HBO Max as the streaming service that caught it all. Its original series have won Emmy Awards, and reality shows such as Fboy Island had a fuss, Sesame Street Anchoring a strong lineup of children’s and family programming, its movie library is augmented by TCM’s deep classic offerings.
A year later, the newly renamed Max added some existential bleakness to the streaming landscape, pioneering what has become a deeply troubling trend: streaming services throwing their original movies into the trash, or not just canceling shows, but completely removing them, never to air again. other.
WarnerMedia kicked off this “cost-saving initiative” a year ago with the surprise announcement of its date bat girl The film will be permanently protected before it is shown for the first time on the service. This is in addition to removing string like westworld And raised by wolves (to later appear on FAST – Ad-supported Free TV Streaming Platforms) launched a steady wave of similar moves from other studios, using the same playbook to boost their profits.
Having a seemingly infinite amount of entertainment is a relatively new development in human history. However, thanks to Max, Disney+, and Paramount+, it’s starting to feel like it’s coming to an end. Oh, there’s still more content out there to watch than one person could ever watch in their lifetime. But consumer trust is built on these platforms being a trusted home for the stories we love — something that breaks down every time a new movie or TV show is permanently removed from streaming.
Some historical perspective
Shows and movies bounce back and forth between platforms all the time these days (for example, Harry Potter in a continuous flow between Peacock and Max). It’s different when the asset is only owned by a platform gold.
Before the advent of home video, the idea of preserving film and television so that it could be viewed again by consumers was not a priority, to the point that a great deal of content from those early decades is lost forever. The Library of Congress estimates that 75% of all silent films made before 1929 are gone forever. In the world of television, the lack of interest in archiving already-broadcast material has infamously affected long-running sci-fi series doctor who: 97 of the 253 episodes broadcast from 1963 to 1969 are missing, due to the BBC’s then policies regarding deletion of material.