Don’t Cross the Streams

What is Playing Where in the Era of Streaming

Julia Alexander for The Verge on the Harry Potter franchise suddenly vanishing from HBO Max:

That’s because years prior to HBO Max’s launch, WarnerMedia signed a deal with NBCUniversal that gave the latter company exclusive rights to the Harry Potter series through 2025. Through that deal, most insiders assumed Harry Potter, one of WarnerMedia’s biggest properties, would not be on HBO Max for years to come. The night before HBO Max launched, however, WarnerMedia executives struck a deal with NBCUniversal to have all eight Harry Potter movies premiere on HBO Max. Now, those same movies are leaving. It’s unclear when those movies will return, but The Verge has reached out to HBO Max for comment.

Probably 2025! Insane. And:

The Harry Potter franchise is just one example. Back in late May, right when HBO Max launched, customers learned that movies on which HBO Max marketed its launch — including Justice League — would be leaving after just one month. Justice League was set to leave the service for a period of time, but it’s scheduled to return to HBO Max at some point in 2020, a spokesperson told The Verge at the time. While it would eventually come back, the insinuation was that Justice League — a core part of the DC Extended Universe that subscribers assumed was on HBO Max — wouldn’t be there for an unknown amount of time. WarnerMedia eventually ended up extending the film’s time on the streamer. 

Peacock is in the same boat. NBCUniversal’s streaming service just launched last week, but is already facing questions over titles leaving that were there on launch day. Heavy hitters like Shrek and the Jurassic Park trilogy, alongside 2009’s Fast and Furious, have either disappeared or are about to leave.The Jurassic Park trilogy is going to Netflix in August. The Matrix trilogy, which both NBCUniversal and WarnerMedia touted as a benefit to subscribing to their streaming services, is leaving Peacock next month. It’s unclear where The Matrix trilogy will wind up, but HBO Max seems likely. The Mummy and The Mummy Returns are also gone.

This is all bonkers. And it’s getting worse. Constantly now in my household: “which service is _____ on?” Which requires the use of… Google. And we just got Peacock — which is a pleasant surprise — and the first question was, “this has Friends, right?” The idea being that of course the network, NBC, which made Friends famous would also be the home of it on streaming, obviously, right? Wrong.

Worse, I’ll often now be about to buy a movie on iTunes (which is still insanely called ‘iTunes Movies’ on Apple TV) and realize I should probably search to see if it’s available on one of the services I already subscribe to — and quite often, it is!

Google aside, we so clearly need a service which unifies all this nonsense. A single box or UI where you can go to find what you want to watch. Apple has tried and failed to build this multiple times. Maybe a service like ReelGood can do this. But how long can they stay a true Switzerland? I sincerely worry this all ends in piracy.