Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

Last month, HBO Max purged 68 shows and movies from its catalog in a stunt that has sent the entire industry in upheaval. Creators and producers have criticized the decision from all sides, with customers mass-unsubscribing from the service and investors jumping ship as the company’s stock plummets to the ground

The loss of these beloved titles has left many disheartened, and for those who are unfamiliar with the streaming industry, it’s hard to understand what exactly has happened and to what purpose it serves. 

In this article, I’m going to be answering three key questions: what is going on, why it’s important, and where do we go from here?


The simple explanation is this: Warner Bros. Discovery plans to merge HBO Max and Discovery+ together. 

Watching the number of subscriptions plateau over the years, the company decided in order to keep things cost-effective, they would quietly remove all content that wasn’t getting enough views. Most of these were Max originals or shows targeted toward kids: cartoon animations like “Infinity Train”, “OK K.O.!”, “Mao Mao”, and “Tig n’ Seek” that wouldn’t be as successful on HBO Max’s ad-supported tier as other, more adult-oriented titles. 

Additionally, for every show that is on the platform, HBO Max has to pay fees called “residuals” that go to Hollywood unions, even if the show doesn’t get any views. This creates further incentive to remove content that isn’t getting any views so that these costs can be offset. 

The focus on the company’s bottom line has led to these niche but beloved shows being delisted, and since WBD owns the licenses to them, they’ve been vaulted away from the public, unable to be viewed by both the fans and the creators. 


Canceling a show is way different from delisting it. The first simply stops the show’s continuation; the other essentially erases the show from existence. 

Obviously, corporations being able to delete large parts of popular culture whenever it suits them is a big problem. Promo videos, tweets, YouTube clips, and even the soundtracks of delisted titles have been scrubbed clean from the internet. “Sesame Street”, which was specifically devised to help educate low-income, minority children, now has around 200 episodes that are completely inaccessible. 

The writers and animators of delisted animations have spoken out in rage and anguish over seeing years of their blood, sweat, and tears thrown into the garbage. Many created these shows for their own children, who are now no longer able to watch them. 

“Tig n’ Seek” art director Levon Jihanian mourns the loss of their work.

“I can’t think of a single person who works in animation and entertainment that, when you bring this all up, doesn’t say ‘What the fuck are they doing? How do they plan to have anyone ever want to work with them again?’” Owen Dennis, the creator of “Infinity Train”, said. “Because why would we? What is the point of making something, spending years working on it, putting in nights and weekends doing their terrible notes, losing sleep, and not seeing our families, if it’s just going to be taken away and shot in the backyard?”

The removal of these series had happened without informing any of the creators, a massive betrayal of trust that has shown just how little the company cares for its relationships with creators and talent. Nevermind that “Sesame Street” has been a staple to the childhoods of millions; nevermind that “Infinity Train” has received critical acclaim for its writing and a 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating for every season; nevermind that these shows have been beloved by audiences for years; they weren’t making the numbers tick upwards, so they had to go.

Worse still, WBD no longer has to pay residuals to the artists and writers of these series. Many rely on residuals to survive, which are used by their union to pay for healthcare, so by stopping payments, the company is effectively defunding their healthcare

Not only is this hurting art, but it is hurting artists, who will likely never see a penny from their creations ever again. Creativity is being stifled and good craftsmanship is being discouraged, in favor of a soulless formula designed to make the oh-so-worshipped line keep moving up. 


The good news is this: WBD’s plan to increase its profits has, in fact, caused it to lose more. 

While being the most unprecedented, WBD’s mass content purge has not been its first poor decision. Earlier in the year, there had been a DC purge, where several planned projects were axed. Productions like “Batgirl” and “Scoob! Holiday Haunt”, which had both completed filming, were likewise canned last minute as tax write-offs, throwing off investors and, after the removal of 36 animated series, causing the company’s stock value to drop nearly 50% since the beginning of the year. 

HBO Max has since tried to offset this by offering 30% off its subscription deal, but many viewers are frustrated and distrustful of the platform after its content gutting. And rightfully so.

After seeing the trainwreck that HBO Max has manufactured, watching Netflix grow a reputation for canceling shows after their first season in order to save on production costs, and hearing about startup streaming services like Quibi and CNN+ failing left and right, it’s really easy to see that streaming services are not sustainable if they keep valuing short-term cost-cutting over long-term audiences. Giving a streaming service the incentive not to stream things is completely backwards to the principle of the service. 

If you have an HBO Max or Discovery+ subscription, I urge you to cancel it and hit the high seas instead. Pirating sites are now the only thing standing between many of these shows being deleted fully from the internet and getting lost forever. Furthermore, taking money away from WBD helps sink it deeper into a hole of its own making. 

A company that disrespects its creators does not deserve to make money from the degradation of their art. These shows and movies, created with love and meant to be shared, have now been taken away from us. Ensuring WBD’s quick-profit scheme backfires horribly on them would disincentivize this kind of deplorable behavior and prevent this terrible precedent from taking hold of other streaming services in the industry.

Jenny Nguyen

CU Boulder '25

Jenny is a sophomore at the CU College of Arts and Sciences, majoring in MCDB with a computational biology minor. Her interests include astronomy, debate, Pokemon, and a variety of TV shows and movies ranging from the average slice-of-life to a good, bone-chilling horror flick.