Half of both shows remain on service due to timing differences in licensing deals.
After a year of content deletions and cancellations, HBO Max has lifted one final pullout for the new year. On Dec. 31, the streamer removed 256 Looney Tunes shorts and three seasons of The Flintstones, IndieWire confirmed.
The “Looney Tunes” shorts were marketed as “Seasons” 16-31 on the platform. The removed shorts, released between 1950 and 2004, include some of the series’ most acclaimed, such as “What’s Opera, Doc?” and “Duck Amuck.” Seasons 4-6 of The Flintstones, each consisting of 26 episodes, have been removed. Seasons 1-15 of Looney Tunes, a compilation of 255 short films released between 1930 and 1949, and the first three seasons of The Flintstones are still available to stream on the platform.
The Looney Tunes and Flintstones series were licensed to HBO Max through an intercompany deal, as Warner Bros. owns both the short film franchise and the Hanna Barbara series. According to a source, HBO Max has opted not to renew the license agreements after they expire in late 2022. The earlier seasons have not been removed (yet) due to timing differences with the deals that brought them to the platform.
Since August, Warner Bros. Discovery has been making waves by removing shows and films from HBO Max and canceling films in production or in completion, like Leslie Grace’s Batgirl, outright. These cuts have particularly impacted animated and family shows, with 200 episodes of Sesame Street being removed, along with the removal of shows like Infinity Train and the cancellation of the upcoming Batman: Caped Crusader series.
One of the main reasons for the recent cuts was simply taxes. Due to special merger rules, Warner Bros. Discovery — formed in April 2022 after Discovery acquired WarnerMedia — was able to take significant writedowns on content in its first year of existence. This time, however, that is not the motivation.
In December, WBD announced plans to move several HBO Max shows off the service — including the HBO originals “Westworld” and “The Nevers” — to its upcoming FAST (free, ad-supported streaming TV) channel. It’s unclear if the “Looney Tunes” or “Flintstones” episodes removed from HBO Max will also make it to this as-yet-untitled FAST service, or if they might be licensed to third-party platforms, which the service plans to do with other shows did they cut. It could be both.
The Flintstones was not a Max exclusive and the removed seasons have already been licensed elsewhere. A second person with knowledge of the plans told Indiewire that the lost Looney Tunes seasons will “likely” show up somewhere else: maybe WBD FAST, or an entirely independent platform — or both. It’s just too early to tell.
In addition to the FAST channel, WBD plans to merge HBO Max with Discovery+ by the summer, though a specific launch date or service name has yet to be announced.
https://www.indiewire.com/2023/01/looney-tunes-the-flinstones-removed-hbo-max-1234796234/ HBO Max is removing Looney Tunes and The Flinstones episodes