Study: Max Cancels More Series Than Broadcast TV, Cable and Other Streamers

Max cancels more series than broadcast, cable, and other streamers according to a new study. Launched as HBO Max in 2020, Max is owned by Warner Bros. Discovery and known for original, now-cancelled series such as Raised by Wolves (pictured), Gossip Girl, Love Life, and Minx.

According to Variety, the companies Variety Intelligence Platform (VIP+) and Luminate collaborated on an extensive report titled “The Show Must Go Off” to determine which linear or streaming programmer cancelled the most series. The report covers all cancelled shows between 2020 and August 8, 2023. The data shows that the major streamers (Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Max, Apple TV+, Peacock, and Paramount+) have a combined cancellation rate of 12.2%, while linear TV is 10.8%. However, the cancellation rate for Max is 26.9%, which is higher than cable, broadcast, or any other streamer.

Max Also Cut HBO Originals Such As Westworld

Westworld e1694714692875
Image Credit: HBO.

Max purged a considerable amount of content — including HBO shows such as Westworld (pictured above) — since Warner Bros. and Discovery merged in 2022. WBD CEO David Zaslav canceled expensive series such as Westworld to reduce the company's sizable debt.

Variety reports, “While Netflix is often used as the prime example of the streamer that ‘cancels everything,' the study found the streaming service actually axed just 10.2% of its shows in the period measured — ranking fifth in the field. That includes high-profile cancellations for shows like the live-action Cowboy Bebop, which was iced less than a month after it launched in 2021.”

An important factor to note about the “The Show Must Go Off” study is that the volume of original series produced by each provider varies greatly. Netflix has a reputation for pulling the plug on a lot of shows, but it green-lights many more series than either Peacock or Max. 

So, if Max is where original programming goes to die, which streamer has the lowest cancellation rate? Variety reports, “Apple TV+ had the lowest cancellation rate of any outlet by far, at just 4.9%. That’s in part a reflection of the streaming service’s absence of any catalog programming. The tech giant’s streaming arm is best known for its Emmy-winning comedy Ted Lasso (which concluded on its own terms after three seasons earlier this year) and dramas like The Morning Show, which was renewed for a fourth season ahead of the recent season three premiere. Among the few shows actually canceled at Apple TV+ are Mr. Corman starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shantaram starring Charlie Hunnam, and High Desert starring Patricia Arquette.”

Overall, when comparing all the streamers with linear TV, “The Show Must Go Off” study determined that the cancellation rate is similar between 2020 and 2023: 221 cancellations for streamers; 193 for linear TV.