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The Harry Potter films are headed to Peacock, in a perfect example of how confusing streaming is

The Harry Potter films are headed to Peacock, in a perfect example of how confusing streaming is


One of Warner Bros. biggest franchises will stream on NBCUniversal’s service

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Harry Potter wand face (Harry Potter/Warner Brothers/Facebook)
Image: Harry Potter/Warner Brothers

The tangled journey of the streaming rights for the Harry Potter films just got even more confusing, as Peacock has announced that it’ll be offering the series starting in October. The Potter films are currently streaming on HBO Max but are set to leave the service on August 25th.

When Harry Potter arrives on Peacock, it’ll be available for at least a month, according to Vulture, before heading to NBCUniversal’s linear broadcast and cable TV channels and then returning back to Peacock again in 2021. However, it sounds like that, too, will be a temporary run for only a few months.

If you’re confused why NBCUniversal’s streaming service is about to be the home of one of Warner Bros.’s biggest franchises, it’s because in 2016, Warner Bros. signed the TV rights to the series over to NBCUniversal in a deal reportedly worth as much as $250 million. A last-minute deal between the two companies in May allowed HBO Max to debut with the Harry Potter films for its first three months, but now NBCUniversal is taking custody of the films once again.

The Harry Potter films aren’t the only ones: Peacock is also set to get Batman Begins and The Dark Knight in the future, two key Warner Bros. titles that are a part of the DC Comics draw for HBO Max. All this may seem weird from the outside — after all, why shouldn’t Warner Bros. just be able to air its own content? But it’s been par for the course for the film industry for decades. It’s the rise of larger, company-owned streaming services that has started to warp our expectations and given companies like Warner Bros., Universal, or Disney the incentive to get the rights for their content back.

It’s not a problem unique to HBO Max or Peacock: Disney has had issues wrangling back some of the Marvel and Star Wars films that it had licensed out to companies like Starz and Netflix, and the fighting over big franchises like Seinfeld, Friends, and The Office has only emphasized how confusing streaming rights deals are going to continue to be for the foreseeable future.

Disclosure: Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, is also an investor in Vox Media, The Verge’s parent company.