Some very bad news for all you Harry Potter Weekend fans out there. Collider has confirmed that starting in 2018, Freeform will no longer be airing the Harry Potter films, which have been a staple of the network since it went under the name ABC Family. The change comes as a result of NBCUniversal striking a deal to bring the Harry Potter films to HBO starting January 1st, which marks the beginning of an exclusive licensing window. While some pegged this as a possibility when the deal was announced, we’ve confirmed with Freeform that the NBCUniversal deal with HBO is exclusive—meaning no more Harry Potter on Freeform starting January 1, 2018.
This is no doubt a bummer to the bevy of folks who tune in to the Harry Potter marathons that frequent Freeform throughout the year. In addition to original content, the Disney-owned network plays host to airings of a variety of films (including some great Christmas and Halloween content), but the Harry Potter franchise was far and away a fan favorite. They’d kick off with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at the beginning of the weekend, and run all the way up through Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 by Monday.
There’s no word on what kind of programming Freeform intends to fill this gap with, or if they have their eye on a different kind of franchise to marathon in semi-regular bouts. But this is a boost for HBO, which will not only be showing the films on its flagship cable network, but will make the entire franchise available to stream for the first time ever through HBO GO, HBO NOW, HBO On Demand, and affiliate portals. While the network leans hard into original series content like Game of Thrones and Westworld, scoring the rights to one of the biggest film franchises of all time is a major, major get.
HBO is kicking off its new license on January 1st with Sorcerer’s Stone starting at 9am ET/PT and ending with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in the early hours of January 2nd. The whole marathon starts anew on January 2nd at 8pm ET/PT, airing one Potter film a night through January 10ht.
Indeed, the move of the Harry Potter franchise to HBO does make quite a bit of sense, as HBO plays host to most of Warner Bros.’ library when its new releases head to pay cable channels. Still, Harry Potter Weekend was almost like a warm blanket—a comforting, familiar TV marathon that would keep you happy and occupied all weekend long. So it’s a shame to see it go.