Warner Bros. Discovery’s content purge of HBO Max continued with a year-end culling of a bucket of classic “Looney Tunes” shorts and “The Flintstones” episodes.
As of Dec. 31, HBO Max removed Seasons 16-31 of the original “Looney Tunes” library, Variety has confirmed. Still remaining on the service are “Loony Tunes” Season 1-15, which comprise 255 shorts spanning 1930-49. The shorts that were deleted were released from 1950-2004, including “What’s Opera, Doc?”, “Feed the Kitty,” “Rabbit of Seville,” “Duck Amuck” and “One Froggy Evening,” as noted by Vulture.
In addition, HBO Max has pulled Season 4-6 of “The Flintstones,” a total of 78 episodes. The first three seasons of the Hanna-Barbera classic are still available on the service.
The “Looney Tunes” and “Flintstones” content was licensed to HBO Max from Warner Bros. under an intra-company deal. Those licensing agreements expired at the end of 2022 and HBO Max did not renew them, as it seeks to reduce content expenses. It’s unclear whether the “Looney Tunes” and “Flintstones” content that is no longer on HBO Max will be available other streaming platforms.
HBO Max’s removal of the “Looney Tunes” shorts was reported Dec. 31 by a Twitter account called The Cartoon News. In a follow-up post Monday, the account said without citing a source that the “Looney Tunes” clips were “removed temporarily due to a maintenance check to fix the photoshop titles” and that “they will be returning to HBO Max soon.” A source familiar with HBO Max told Variety that the “Looney Tunes” shorts will not, in fact, be coming back to the service.
Since Discovery’s acquisition of WarnerMedia to form Warner Bros. Discovery, the company has made a series of content cutbacks aimed at reducing expenses. That has included canceling HBO Max original series “Minx” (reversing the Season 2 renewal) and HBO’s “The Nevers.” Earlier in the year, HBO Max had expunged multiple exclusive film titles and original series and 200 older “Sesame Street” episodes. All told, WBD said last month, the company could incur content impairment and development write-off charges of up to $3.5 billion as the result of the merger.
In addition, Warner Bros. Discovery last month announced plans to remove several shows from HBO Max — including “Westworld,” “The Nevers,” “Raised by Wolves,” “FBoy Island,” “Legendary,” “Finding Magic Mike,” “Head of the Class” and “The Time Traveler’s Wife” — in order to license them to third-party free, ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) partners.
At the same time, Warner Bros. Discovery is prepping a merged HBO Max-Discovery+ platform, set to launch in the U.S. in the spring of 2023. The company hasn’t announced details on pricing, packaging or a name yet (although “Max” is among the contenders).
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