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HBO Max begins pulling some Comedy Central titles

Warner Bros Discovery has removed several Comedy Central television shows from its flagship streaming service HBO Max, The Desk has learned.

The shows were pulled from HBO Max after a contract between Warner Bros Discovery and Paramount Global expired on Tuesday, with no new agreement in place.

The titles removed from HBO Max include “Inside Amy Schumer,” “Key & Peele” and “Reno 911!,” which were added to HBO Max in late 2020 after then-HBO Max parent company, AT&T’s WarnerMedia, inked a multi-year deal to carry those series.

That agreement expired on Tuesday, with Paramount Global reclaiming domestic digital distribution rights for its own streaming service, Paramount Plus, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Several other Comedy Central titles remain on HBO Max under a separate agreement with Warner Bros Discovery, including “Chappelle’s Show,” “Awkwafina is Nora from Queens” and “Nathan for You.” The popular adult animated sitcom “South Park” remains exclusive to HBO Max under a separate deal between it, Comedy Central and South Park Studios.

Several years ago, Paramount executives said licensing its intellectual properties like the Comedy Central TV shows made sense because it gave Paramount’s content greater exposure.

“[Licensing] content, including some stuff from Comedy Central, is good for engagement,” Robert Bakish, Paramount Global’s chief executive, said in late 2020. “We want to have it for our own use, but we don’t think it detracts from subscriber acquisition for Paramount Plus.”

That thought process has been significantly walked back since the relaunch of CBS All Access as Paramount Plus, which is one of the fastest-growing subscription video services in the space. Now, Paramount executives say leveraging its movies and TV shows is key to growing out Paramount Plus and its sister service, the free streamer Pluto TV.

Paramount executives are leveraging popular franchises like “South Park” and “Yellowstone” to roll out content that is exclusive to Paramount Plus and Pluto TV, including a slate of South Park movies and Yellowstone spin-offs. Paramount executives say they intend to make the South Park TV catalog exclusive to Paramount Plus when streaming rights at HBO Max expire in three years.

Paramount Plus costs $5 a month or $50 a year for an ad-supported version of the service. A premium version of Paramount Plus that removes commercials from most on-demand TV shows and movies costs $10 a month or $100 a year. Showtime is available as an add-on package for a separate monthly or yearly fee.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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