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HBO Max Pulls Nearly 200 Sesame Street Episodes

HBO Max took down classic episodes of Sesame Street since it prepares to mix with Discovery+. The move came as a surprise to fans, who concerned about what it signals.

Most of the “Sesame Street” episodes removed from HBO Max aired before 2008.
Credit…Landon Nordeman for THE BRAND NEW York Times

Nearly 200 episodes of Sesame Street have already been pulled from HBO Max, the streaming platform that is purging films and tv shows in recent weeks since it prepares to match another streaming service, Discovery+.

Fans of Sesame Street were surprised on Friday to note that a huge selection of episodes, most from the initial 40 years of the show, have been taken off HBO Max.

It’s the latest shift at HBO Max following merger of its former parent company, WarnerMedia, with Discovery Inc. in April. Together, the firms formed Warner Bros. Discovery, that is looking to find $3 billion in savings in order to reduce its $55 billion with debt.

This week, about 70 HBO Max workers were let go as part 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 companys leader, also told investors this month that the business plans to provide an individual paid subscription streaming service, combining content from HBO Max and Discovery+.

It had been not yet determined what which means for future years of Sesame Street on HBO Max.

By Friday, HBO Max had cut the amount of Sesame Street episodes it offers 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 bout of Sesame Street from Seasons 39, which aired in 2008, through 52, the most recent season, continues to be on HBO Max. The most recent season, 53, will air on HBO Max in the fall.

The only real episodes available from before season 39 are from seasons one, five and seven, including a fan favorite where all the characters gather for a singalong in Bert and Ernies bathroom.

One of the most notable episodes HBO Max once streamed are no more available, including an episode that aired in 1983 and featured Big Bird confronting death, following death of the actor who played Mr. Hooper, Will Lee.

HBO said in a statement that the streaming platform was focused on continuing to create Sesame Street into families homes.

Sesame Street is and contains always been a significant section 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 cope with HBO in April 2015 to provide the premium cable network the first run of new episodes. The episodes would then air free nine months down the road PBS, where in fact the show had aired for 45 years.

In 2019, Sesame Workshop made an identical cope with HBO Max, which were only available in May 2020. Both deals also gave HBO Max usage of the enormous back library of Sesame Street, though it hasn’t made all the episodes offered by once.

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

Sesame Workshop didn’t immediately react to a obtain touch upon Saturday.

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

The culturally important episodes, or the episodes that perhaps a more casual fan would say, Id prefer to note that again, that stuff is whats missing, Mr. Hennes said.

Mr. Hennes, who worked in the creative department of Sesame Workshop from 2012 to 2021, said 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 partnership, Mr. Hennes said it might limit the nonprofits production and outreach work.

In an ideal world, HBO Max would like to invest more in Sesame Street and really ensure it is the flagship that maybe it’s for the streaming network, Mr. Hennes said. So its just a little baffling they would opt to go backward on that and say were likely to do less of the rather than really capitalize by themselves investment in the franchise.

After HBO Maxs decision to eliminate episodes became public, the state Twitter take into account Sesame Street appeared to address the change.

Friends and family on Sesame Street will be here if you want them, it said. Go to the neighborhood any day of the week with full episodes on our YouTube channel.

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