HBO holds back Last Week Tonight YouTube clips in hopes you’ll use Max instead

John Oliver wearing a Tuxedo and making a distraught face while holding two Emmys.
John Oliver poses with his Emmy awards on January 15th, 2024. | Photo: Kevin Mazur / Getty Images

HBO has long posted the main segment from new episodes of Last Week Tonight With John Oliver to YouTube on Monday to coincide with the episodes’ premiere, but now you’ll have to wait. John Oliver posted yesterday that “HBO has decided they’re going to wait until Thursday to post them to YouTube from now on,” adding that he hopes HBO changes its mind.

HBO confirmed the change to Variety yesterday, saying that when the show first premiered, “the convenience of watching on Max did not exist,” so it leaned on YouTube clips for exposure and promotion. The rep added that the company hopes “fans choose to watch the entire show on Max.”

Other networks still post clips as soon as a show comes out — Comedy Central still puts up The Daily Show clips when an episode premieres, for example. But these days, sports are almost the only thing most people use linear TV for, so there’s not a big promotional benefit anymore. On top of that, HBO’s own streaming platform, Max, is in direct competition with YouTube. Giving it free views in a way that also pulls views away from its own platform ends up just depriving it of the revenue it gets from its own ad-supported tier.