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HBO Max Pulls Nearly 200 ‘Sesame Street’ Episodes


Nearly 200 episodes of “Sesame Street” have been pulled from HBO Max, the streaming platform that has been purging movies and tv shows in recent weeks because it prepares to mix with one other streaming service, Discovery+.

Fans of “Sesame Street” were surprised on Friday to see that lots of of episodes, most from the primary 40 years of the show, had been faraway from HBO Max.

It’s the most recent shift at HBO Max following the merger of its former parent company, WarnerMedia, with Discovery Inc. in April. Together, the businesses formed Warner Bros. Discovery, which is aiming to seek out $3 billion in savings in an effort to scale back its $55 billion in debt.

This week, about 70 HBO Max staff members were laid off as a component of the reorganization, and HBO Max announced that 36 titles were being pulled from the platform. The pulled programming included the animated series “Infinity Train” and “The Not-Too-Late Show With Elmo,” a “Sesame Street” spinoff.

David Zaslav, the corporate’s chief executive, also told investors this month that the corporate plans to supply a single paid subscription streaming service, bringing together content from HBO Max and Discovery+.

It was not clear what which means for the long run of “Sesame Street” on HBO Max.

As of Friday, HBO Max had cut the variety of “Sesame Street” episodes it provides to 456 from 650, Variety reported. Some spinoff series survived the cull, including seven seasons of “My Sesame Street Friends,” and “The Magical Wand Chase” special, featuring Elmo and Abby Cadabby, a pink fairy-in-training who joined “Sesame Street” in 2006.

Every episode of “Sesame Street” from Seasons 39, which aired in 2008, through 52, the most recent season, continues to be available on HBO Max. The latest season, 53, will air on HBO Max in the autumn.

The one episodes available from before season 39 are from seasons one, five and 7, including a fan favorite through which the entire characters gather for a singalong in Bert and Ernie’s bathroom.

Among the most notable episodes HBO Max once streamed aren’t any longer available, including an episode that aired in 1983 and featured Big Bird confronting death, following the death of the actor who played Mr. Hooper, Will Lee.

HBO said in an announcement that the streaming platform was “committed to continuing to bring ‘Sesame Street’ into families’ homes.”

“‘Sesame Street’ is and has at all times been a crucial a part of television culture and a crown jewel of our preschool offering,” the statement said.

Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit group behind “Sesame Street,” struck a five-year take care of HBO in April 2015 to offer the premium cable network the primary run of latest episodes. The episodes would then air free nine months afterward PBS, where the show had aired for 45 years.

In 2019, Sesame Workshop made an identical take care of HBO Max, which began in May 2020. Each deals also gave HBO Max access to the big back library of “Sesame Street,” though it has never made the entire episodes available at the identical time.

Some episodes of the show can be found on PBS and the Sesame Street YouTube account.

Sesame Workshop didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment on Saturday.

Joe Hennes, editor in chief of ToughPigs, an internet site for fans of “Sesame Street,” the Muppets and other Jim Henson creations, said the “Sesame Street” episodes still available on HBO Max were a “random assortment.”

“The culturally necessary episodes, or the episodes that perhaps a more casual fan would say, ‘I’d prefer to see that again,’ that stuff is what’s missing,” Mr. Hennes said.

Mr. Hennes, who worked within the creative department of Sesame Workshop from 2012 to 2021, said that he was concerned that the episode removal could signal a fading relationship between HBO Max and Sesame Workshop.

Sesame Workshop expanded its offerings and increased its production values with the influx of funding from the premium cable network. If HBO Max reduced its financial support or ended the connection, Mr. Hennes said it could limit the nonprofit’s production and outreach work.

“In an ideal world, HBO Max would want to take a position more in ‘Sesame Street’ and really make it the flagship that it may very well be for the streaming network,” Mr. Hennes said. “So it’s a bit of baffling that they’d determine to go backward on that and say we’re going to do less of this and not likely capitalize on their very own investment within the franchise.”

After HBO Max’s decision to remove episodes became public, the official Twitter account for “Sesame Street” appeared to address the change.

“Your pals on Sesame Street will at all times be here whenever you need them,” it said. “Visit the neighborhood any day of the week with full episodes on our YouTube channel.”

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