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HBO Max removes about 200 'Sesame Street' episodes

The removal of mostly older episodes appears to be a belt-tightening move aimed at reducing the streamer's content payment obligations.
Ernie appears with Ji-Young, the first Asian American muppet on "Sesame Street."
Ernie appears with Ji-Young, the first Asian American muppet on "Sesame Street."Noreen Nasir / AP

Brought to you by the letters G-O-N-E: The content purge at HBO Max continues as the streaming platform has pulled about 200 older episodes of classic kids’ show “Sesame Street.”

The removal of the “Sesame Street” episodes and other recent content by HBO Max appears to be part of new owner Warner Bros. Discovery’s belt-tightening moves, aimed at reducing streaming-content payment obligations.

As of Friday, HBO Max listed 456 total episodes of “Sesame Street,” with a selection from Seasons 1, 5 and 7 and the full lineup from the most recent Seasons 39-52. Of those, only 29 are from the earliest seasons. Previously, the streaming service offered about 650 total “Sesame Street” episodes, including episodes from Seasons 2-4 and those from every season between 8 and 35.

Reps for Warner Bros. Discovery and Sesame Workshop did not respond to requests for comment.

HBO and Sesame Workshop first struck an agreement in 2015, providing a new revenue stream for “Sesame Street,” while granting HBO rights to run new episodes of the landmark series first before they appeared on its longtime home, PBS. Their current agreement keeps “Sesame Street” on HBO Max until 2025.

Still available for now on HBO Max, in addition to remaining episodes of the “Sesame Street” series, are the 10-episode “Sesame Street Mecha Builders,” seven seasons of “My Sesame Street Friends” and “The Magical Wand Chase” special featuring Elmo and Abby.

The removal of the “Sesame Street” episodes comes after HBO Max on Wednesday said at least 36 more titles will be leaving the service this week. That includes 20 original HBO Max shows, including teen drama “Generation,” animated anthology series “Infinity Train” and kids’ show “Summer Camp Island,” as well as several “Sesame Street” specials. That’s in addition to the previously announced titles exiting HBO Max this month, including all eight of the original “Harry Potter” films.

Warner Bros. Discovery said the decision to pull the titles from HBO Max were tied to the pending combo of the platform with Discovery+.

“As we work toward bringing our content catalogs together under one platform, we will be making changes to the content offering available on both HBO Max and Discovery+,” the company said in a statement. “That will include the removal of some content from both platforms.”

In recent weeks, HBO Max also quietly removed six Warner Bros. films and HBO shows such as “Camping,” “Vinyl,” “Mrs. Fletcher” and “Run.” Under Warner Bros. Discovery’s stewardship, HBO Max also recently killed Greg Berlanti’s DC series “Strange Adventures” and a “Wonder Twins” live-action movie.