Paramount Is Taking Down Decades Worth of Old TV Clips from the Web

Creators and fans have come to learn all too well what it feels like when an old show or film that used to be available through streaming is suddenly gone, even as we’ve been sold the idea of infinite choice and endless libraries at our fingertips.

Now though even older examples of TV history are disappearing in the blink of an eye. Paramount this week has quietly purged much of the content being hosted on several of its cable channels, including Comedy Central, Paramount Network, TV Land, and CMT, all as of Wednesday afternoon. And on Monday, was completely removed from the web, with it erasing years of music news articles, columns, and features.

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As a result, you can no longer find full episodes or clips of classic Comedy Central late night shows such as “The Colbert Report,” “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore,” or “The Opposition with Jordan Klepper” available for online streaming. Full episodes of sketch comedy show “Key & Peele” are also gone, and even vintage episodes of “The Daily Show” from before 2016 are nowhere to be found. The blog LateNighter first noticed the websites had been wiped.

YouTube offers a few answers, but finding specific clips, let alone full episodes, can be more of a challenge. In their place, websites for each of the above-mentioned cable channels features a pop-up window saying, “While episodes of most Comedy Central series are no longer available on this website, you can watch Comedy Central through your TV provider. You can also sign up for Paramount+ to watch many seasons of Comedy Central shows.”

A rep for Paramount told IndieWire: “As part of broader website changes across Paramount, we have introduced more streamlined versions of our sites, driving fans to Paramount+ to watch their favorite shows.”

For now though, many of these series are not currently available on Paramount+, such as “The Colbert Report” or “The Nightly Show.” Even “The Daily Show” has only two of the most recent seasons, encompassing 2024 and 2023, available, despite decades of the show’s history. “South Park” clips used to be hosted on Comedy Central’s website, but the only place to watch full episodes of those are via Max, not Paramount+.

The likely reason for this? Cost cutting. In a town hall this week, Paramount’s “Office of the CEO” including co-chiefs George Cheeks, Chris McCarthy, and Brian Robbins, expressed plans to save $500 million in order to stave off profit drops and one day make Paramount+ profitable. The company has $12 billion in debt it must pay off, and David Ellison’s Skydance isn’t coming in to save the day anymore.

It’s unclear if or when any or all of these shows could migrate to other streaming locations. Years worth of “The Daily Show” and “Colbert” is no easy feat to house, especially if timely, individual old episodes aren’t being well-viewed. And it’s further unlikely such shows would be licensed to other buyers. We wouldn’t be surprised if some shows wound up on Paramount’s free streamer Pluto TV, not unlike how HBO’s “Westworld” now lives permanently on Warner Bros. Discovery’s FAST channels.

There’s also no word on if websites for Nickelodeon, BET, or VH1 might suffer similar fates. But BET and VH1 have each been the subject of sales talks, so what happens to those sites and that content may one day be in other hands.

The erasure of particularly stings, as there’s no archive of the news articles that used to be housed there and are even less likely to see the light of day again.

As former MTV News editor Patrick Hosken says, it really stinks: “So, no longer exists. Eight years of my life are gone without a trace. All because it didn’t fit some executives’ bottom lines. Infuriating is too small a word.”

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