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It is a new year and with it comes the end of an era and the beginning of another one. For time immemorial, Freeform, formerly called ABC Family, has been known for one thing above all else, its Harry Potter marathons. Seemingly every weekend was Harry Potter Weekend on the channel and the entire series would play back to back. This ritual kept many a Potterhead glued to his or her couch for entire weekends, but now that has come to an end. The boy who lived has found a new home, one that is no stranger to beloved fantasy and knows a thing or two about magic and dragons. Indeed, all eight Harry Potter films have officially hit HBO as part of the new exclusive deal that casts a killing curse on Freeform's cherished marathons.
I imagine this is a bit devastating for fans of Freeform's Harry Potter Weekends. The frequent marathons always kept the wizarding tale fresh in the hearts and minds of Potter fans. But this move marks a major change for how fans will get their Potter fix. This is a huge get for HBO, which announced that it would be the new home of Hogwarts just a couple of months ago. Not only will the films be playing on HBO itself, but they will also be available through HBO On Demand and through the network's streaming services HBOGO and HBONOW. Unfortunately as Freeform is a basic cable channel and HBO is the most premium of premium cable channels, the Harry Potter franchise may not be as widely available as it once was on television. But should HBO do occasional marathons, the experience may prove much better.
Being on premium cable, the magic won't be interrupted by commercials. This is anecdotal but I recall Harry Potter weekends stretching each film to Lord of the Rings' extended edition lengths thanks to constant breaks for the top fifty commercials in all the land. I once asked a Potterhead, who owned all of the films on Blu-ray, 'Why are you dealing with commercials and lower quality when you own these films?' She could give no reply, her reasoning lost somewhere in the Department of Mysteries. Such was the power of the Harry Potter marathon.
Now HBO is packing a serious fantasy punch. HBO is a premium network so it does get to air a ton of newer films in addition to its lauded original series. But Harry Potter is evergreen. No matter the competing content when Harry, Ron and Hermione are on-screen, fans will show up. So for those cord-cutters out there debating the various streaming services, Harry Potter may add a serious value proposition to HBO.
As for Freeform, this leaves a serious gap in their lineup. The marathons were a major staple of the network's lineup and identity. Though, as a Disney-owned property, you have to imagine the channel is poised to add all sorts of comfort food to get you through a lazy weekend. But for now, fans can pour out a butterbeer for Freeform's Harry Potter marathons. Potterheads looking for a fresh entry in J.K. Rowling's wizarding world can look forward to one of the biggest films of the year, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, apparating into theaters on November 16th.