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Netflix is pulling an HBO Max by removing one of its earliest originals Hemlock Grove

Could HBO Max be the worst kind of trend-setter? Well, a call over at Netflix suggests that’s more than possible. That’s because one of the first Netflix Originals is about to disappear from the streaming service.

As our sister-site GamesRadar (opens in new tab) spotted in the New on Netflix press email for October 2022, “Hemlock Grove: Seasons 1-3” is listed to leave Netflix on October 22, 2022. Hemlock Grove, if you don’t remember, is a horror series from producer Eli Roth that starred Famke Janssen and Bill Skarsgård set in the titular fictional town in Pennsylvania, where murders are creating anxiety among the townsfolk. It’s not one of our picks for the best shows on Netflix, but it did last three seasons (something not all Netflix shows get to do).

And while we’ll be the first to note that titles come and go from Netflix all the time, those titles are primarily (and nearly always) the licensed shows and movies that services basically rent out for select periods.

Hemlock Grove, though, is different. It’s a Netflix Original — which makes it one of the shows you always expect to stay on Netflix. It debuted on April 19, 2013, and is known as one of Netflix’s earliest exclusive originals (though not the first, which was 2012’s Lilyhammer). 

This is a bit of a familiar story for anyone who’s been following HBO Max as of late, as the service (which we still rank as the best streaming service) started shedding HBO Max original movies this past summer. Then, an even larger mass of HBO Max shows and shows were cut. 

While some of these were seen as moves for tax-cuts, a new prevailing theory came out. Reports emerged that HBO Max was cutting old shows and movies to lower the costs it pays to retain these shows. 

As CNN’s Frank Pallotta (opens in new tab) reported, the decision may be tied to how “Streaming services still must pay residuals to casts and crews of a production, and those costs pile up.” HBO Max, he noted, was to save “north of $100 million annually,” by scrapping its shows.

Analysis: Is Hemlock Grove the canary in the coal mine?

Netflix, as you may know, has had a turbulent 2022. Netflix subscriber numbers showed an overall loss for the first time ever in its Q1 2022 report, and the news of its Q2 2022 report was good news for some because the streamer only lost 970,000 subscribers, when it expected to lose two million.

This decision to remove Hemlock Grove, therefore, could be seen as a cost-cutting measure. Netflix is likely doing everything it can to balance the books, including finally offering an ad-supported tier in the near future and trying to curb account-sharing.

If Netflix is making the decision to pluck Hemlock Grove away, it could be a sign that the streamer is taking HBO Max’s approach at a slower pace. HBO Max creates a lot of negative press (opens in new tab) by gutting its animation content, so Netflix’s version of this may be strategically subtler on purpose.

Also, the decision to take one of Netflix’s oldest shows — and one that isn’t exactly talked about much anymore — also feels deliberate. Such moves likely mean you won’t be able to find these movies without piracy, but by moving slowly Netflix could avoid risking the wrath of the public. 

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