HBO Max, Paramount Plus join Netflix in frustrating 2023 TV show cancellation spree

Alfred Pennyworth leans on a bar as he stares into the camera
A Penny(worth) for your thoughts, Alfred (Image credit: HBO Max)

Update: Paramount has responded to TechRadar's request for comment about its Paramount Plus and Showtime merger.

In the US, Paramount Plus' premium tier will be rebranded to "Paramount Plus with Showtime". The merger will take place later this year – Paramount declined to provide an exact date – and will give customers "a more compelling offering" of content. Paramount says the move "is a natural next step" in its revamped strategy to become a singular, multiplatform, IP-driven company.

As for UK and Australian audiences, Paramount confirmed no changes will be made to its current Paramount Plus subscription plans. Showtime is already integrated into Paramount Plus (as an extra channel) in non-US territories.

On the topic of show cancellations and removals from its streaming platform, Paramount president and CEO Chris McCarthy explained – in an employee memo seen by TechRadar – the reasons behind these decisions. "As a part of Paramount Plus, we can put more resources into building out the lanes that have made the Showtime brand famous, as well as turning our hit shows into global hit franchises. 

"To do this, we will divert investment away from areas which are underperforming and that account for less than 10% of our views. We have already begun conversations with our production partners about what content makes sense moving forward and which shows have franchise potential."

Based on the final part of McCarthy's statement, then, fans should expect more TV shows and films to be cancelled and/or removed from Paramount Plus. However, its most popular franchises, such as Yellowjackets, Yellowstone (and its many spin-offs), Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, and Mayor of Kingstown appear to be safe.

A promotional image showing the Dutton family in Yellowstone

Yellowstone isn't in danger of being cancelled by Paramount. (Image credit: Paramount Network)

Original story follows.

It turns out Netflix isn't the only streamer that's caught the cancellation bug.

We're only one month into 2023, but four of the world's best streaming services have frustrated fans by removing popular TV shows from their back catalogs.

Per IGN, Pennyworth – the series detailing the origins of Batman's butler Alfred – has been canceled by HBO Max after three seasons. Pennyworth only made the jump to the streaming platform, which is owned by Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD), in October 2022 after its successful two-season run on Epix (now rebranded as MGM Plus). Pennyworth's cancellation comes two weeks after HBO Max's reboot of Gossip Girl was dumped after a two-season run.

Meanwhile, The Mysterious Benedict Society won't be moving forward on Disney Plus. According to co-creator Phil Hay (via, the fan-favorite mystery adventure TV show hasn't been renewed for a third season.

Julian Kaye stares menacingly at someone off camera in American Gigolo

American Gigolo is one of multiple casualties at Showtime and Paramount Plus (Image credit: Showtime)

It's Paramount Plus, though, that's seen the biggest upheaval recently. As revealed by The Hollywood Reporter (THR), Paramount plans to merge its main streaming platform with Showtime, the studio's premium television network, resulting in multiple changes to its programming catalog.

Paramount Plus and Showtime's unification hasn't officially taken effect yet. However, Paramount has taken a leaf out of WBD's book by removing and/or cancelling shows from its primary streaming service.

THR's report confirmed that Let The Right One In and American Gigolo, both of which only premiered on Showtime in late 2022, have been cancelled after a single season. The Shailene Woodley-led adaptation of Three Women, which was ready to be released on Showtime, is no longer moving forward, either. Kidding, American Rust, Super Pumped, and On Becoming a God in Central Florida have been removed from Showtime, too.

As for Paramount Plus' TV lineup, Vulture has reported that Jordan Peele's The Twilight Zone is one of eight TV series removed from the streamer's back catlog in recent days. The Real World, Homecoming, Coyote, No Activity, Guilty Party, Interrogation, and The Harper House have also been pulled from the service in the US. TechRadar can confirm that these shows have also been removed from Paramount Plus UK.

A messy and maddening streaming start to the year

Two characters look shocked as a body is set on fire in Netflix's Inside Job

Inside Job is one of many shows canceled by Netflix recently (Image credit: Netflix)

It might be a new year, but the same old cancellation problems are afflicting the streaming industry.

Previously, Netflix led the way in annoying consumers by cancelling fan-favorite shows. The groundswell of fan ire has been palpable at times over the last year, and was likely a contributing factor to Netflix losing millions of subscribers in the early part of 2022. 

That trend has been reversed somewhat by some of the best Netflix shows, including Stranger Things season 4 and Wednesday, but the streamer's problems haven't completely gone away. Recently, Netflix set a deadline for its crackdown on password sharing between households, and with Netflix's anti-password sharing plans laid out in full, it's possible that some customers will cancel their subscriptions to protest against the streamer's latest money-spinning idea.

Still, Netflix isn't alone in irking customers. Like Paramount, WBD has been cancelling popular shows and removing other fan-favorite series from HBO Max ahead of the 2023 merger of HBO Max and Discovery Plus. Elsewhere, Prime Video chose not to renew The Wilds and As We See It (among others) in 2022, while Apple TV Plus recently confirmed that The Mosquito Coast was ending after two seasons.

Paramount Plus, then, is seemingly following an industry-wide trend of realigning its back catalog amid cost-cutting measures, even if it is to the detriment of consumers. Show and movie cancellations are part and parcel of the streaming sector, with studios keeping a close eye on a product's popularity, and balancing that against the financial outlay.

Big businesses aren't immune to the ever-changing tides of the global economy, which has been greatly impacted by the cost of living crisis, Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the the Covid-19 pandemic. Adding those factors into the equation, it's easy to see why Netflix, HBO Max, Paramount Plus, and other streamers are changing how they operate, and re-evaluating what content is worth making. That will be of small comfort to fans of any of the above-listed shows, and many more besides, though, especially in an age where films and TV series provide a much-needed form of escapism for many.

For more streaming coverage, find out what the best HBO Max shows, best Paramount Plus shows, and best Disney Plus shows are.

Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.

Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across.

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