There’s only one sound to describe the current state of streaming. Ooof. And the latest news reveals that streaming shenanigans don’t stop at the traditional streaming platforms that first come to mind when we think of streaming our favorite shows. No, the most recent, unfortunate streaming news had to do with streaming via PlayStation. PlayStation users were recently informed that Discovery content they purchased via the PlayStation Store would no longer be accessible to users and would be removed from their libraries. To be clear, PlayStation and Sony were talking about TV shows that users spent money to specifically access and signaled that the content would vanish. We see titles come and go on streaming all of the time, but usually, not titles that come from a store-based interface. PlayStation did not, at the time, indicate that users would receive a refund for the lost content.
While the decision has since reversed course after massive public outcry, the intent of it remains haunting. Let’s take a look at what happened.
The message to users was short and not so sweet. Playstation/Sony noted, “As of 31 December 2023, due to our content licensing arrangements with content providers, you will no longer be able to watch any of your previously purchased Discovery content and the content will be removed from your video library.”
You can find the full list of Discovery titles that PlayStation was intending to remove from users’ accounts here. Among other titles, purchased versions of Cake Boss, Deadliest Catch, Dirtiest Jobs, Mythbusters, and more will vanish… Alongside the money users spent on purchasing them. Forbes notes that PlayStation meant to delete over 1,200 titles in total. As mentioned, there was no discussion of a refund or a way to download Discovery content purchased for PlayStation.
Fortunately for users, public opinion still has some sway over decisions made by corporations. An updated message on PlayStation’s website reads, “Due to updated licensing arrangements, the Discovery content removal planned for December 31, 2023 is no longer occurring. We appreciate your ongoing support and feedback.” We feel quite certain that Sony and Playstation heard more than a little feedback. But, at the very least, it seems like consumers won this battle. Sony revealed to GamesIndustry.biz that though they do not own the licensing rights to movies/TV series purchased via the PlayStation Store, they’ve come to an agreement with Warner Bros. Discovery for now.
The full quote reads, “Similar to other services, we do not own the licensing rights to TV/movie content that was previously available for purchase on PlayStation Store…However, we’ve worked with Warner Bros to update our licensing agreements, ensuring that consumers will be able to access their previously purchased content for at least the next 30 months.” We’ll just let that sink in.
Regardless of this small victory, the takeaway remains the same and it goes something like this. Not even streaming media that is specifically purchased is really “owned” anymore. We already knew that, of course. But we really know it now. At the same time, it’s becoming more and more difficult to purchase and play physical media versions of shows and movies. So consumers are truly in a pickle. We say it every time, but we really and truly do not like this trend.
Originally published on December 4, 2023.