While we know David Zaslav isn’t getting one, perhaps a small apology is due to the CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery. Zaslav, his CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels, and the company’s streaming chief JB Perrette were saddened by their unceremonious removal of a number of titles from HBO Max, now known as Max. We’re not saying they didn’t deserve the backlash – especially for “Batgirl” and “Coyote vs. Acme” – but perhaps some of the nastiness should have been reserved for Paramount and Bob Bakish.
According to a recent Reelgood audit Of the catalogs for eight leading US streaming services (Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Peacock, Hulu, Max, Disney+, Paramount+ and Apple TV+), there were 830 film titles available on Paramount+ as of October 15, 2023. There were 2,302 film titles available on Paramount+ as of October 15, 2023.
The Paramount+ film library lost 1,472 titles over 363 days, a decline of 64 percent (and about four per day). At the same time, Paramount+’s TV catalog increased by 3 percent. A spokesperson for Paramount did not immediately respond to IndieWire’s request for comment on the film’s cuts.
In comparison, the much-maligned film Max lost 390 titles, or 15 percent, in its film catalog: from 2,558 films in October 2022 to 2,168 in 2023. Thanks to the influx of Discovery+ series, Max has almost doubled its TV show catalog in a year.
Not everyone has participated in a reduction campaign; In fact, the other streamers have expanded their respective film catalogs from October 2022 to 2023.
Thanks to the addition of MGM films, Amazon Prime Video’s catalog increased by 17 percent. That wasn’t the biggest jump of all: Peacock’s movie library grew 47 percent from 2022 to 2023, and Hulu’s doubled. Disney+ added a net 154 movies, Netflix’s catalog grew by 56 movies, and even Apple TV+ added another 11.
While the movie catalogs for Netflix, Peacock, Hulu, Disney+ and Apple TV+ grew each of the last two years, Prime Video was quietly eliminated in 2022. Max grew from 2021 to 2022, a period in which Paramount+’s film catalog exploded. Technically, both have increased from 2021 to 2023, albeit slightly. Amazon’s core streaming service is the only one with fewer films from the beginning to the end of this study; see below.
Amazon “was the first major streamer to recognize that a super-long ‘long tail’ independently produced film title was not necessarily a profitable venture, as residuals and taxes on some indie films cost more than the films generated on streaming.” Isabel Riofrio from Reelgood wrote.
“Amazon has backed off somewhat from the fairly severe purge of indie titles it initiated several years ago, but still has about 2,600 fewer film titles than it had at the start of 2021,” she wrote. “But if it’s an obscure movie from yesterday, Amazon Prime Video remains the first place to look for it.
Besides Amazon, Hulu is the only other streamer in the study that will air shows from 2021 to 2022 (see above). There’s an explanation for this: In fall 2022, NBC began removing its shows from Hulu in favor of Peacock.
At this point, NBCUniversal not only desperately needed to expand Peacock, but it was also clear that its involvement with Hulu would end. Disney is currently in the process of buying out NBCU’s one-third stake in Hulu.