Accio corporate intrigue!
Earlier this summer, WarnerMedia launched its all-encompassing streaming service, HBO Max, to house all Warner content. So you know what that means: it’s time to stream every Harry Potter movie…on NBCUniversal’s Peacock.
Peacock announced today that all eight Harry Potter films will be available to stream in windows over the next six months, starting in October 2020 and extending into 2021. Not only that but the films will be available to all on Peacock’s free tier service.
“The Harry Potter franchise is beloved by people of all ages and represents the caliber of quality entertainment customers can expect to find on Peacock,” said Frances Manfredi, President, Content Acquisition and Strategy, Peacock. “We’ve built a world-class collection of iconic movies and shows, and we will continue to expand the film library with treasured titles from NBCUniversal and beyond that will surprise and delight Peacock customers time and time again.”
So uh…how does such a thing happen? How can WarnerMedia let one of its premier franchises go?
The simple answer is that entertainment media wasn’t always aware of the importance of digital media deals and streaming services and as such cut some strange deals in the time before HBO Max, Peacock, and the like. In 2016, NBCUniversal reached an agreement with WarnerMedia for TV and digital rights to all Harry Potter movies. That’s why Harry Potter marathons are ubiquitous on Syfy and it’s why Peacock is set to be the exclusive streaming home of Hogwarts for the near future.
HBO Max was able to secure rights to the Harry Potter films for shortly after its launch, however. They are now set to leave the streaming service on August 25. The two Harry Potter prequel films Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald remain on Warner’s streaming service.
The eight Harry Potter films are based on the book series by J.K. Rowling and together they are among the most successful film franchises of all time. Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, and Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 sit behind only Marvel and Star Wars in terms of box office success with a worldwide gross of $7.7 billion.
Peacock’s acquisition of the Harry Potter films is part of a larger strategy in which the streamer bolsters its offerings with non-NBCUniversal content. Previously NBCUniversal parent company Comcast cut a deal with ViacomCBS to include numerous movies and TV shows on Peacock while ViacomCBS figures out its own streaming destiny. This means that many classics such as The Godfather trilogy, Catch Me If You Can, The Talented Mr. Ripley, American Beauty, Fatal Attraction, The Firm, and more will be available on the platform in “availability” windows similar to the Harry Potter series.
HBO Max meanwhile maintains access to most of its DC library. It’s currently unknown where the Harry Potter films will end up following their time on Peacock.