PlayStation owners will see 1,318 separate seasons of TV vanish from their console due to "content licensing arrangements". Sony confirmed the cull, which is scheduled for December 31, in an email to console owners. It also posted about the mass removal on its support pages.
Even if you paid to download these boxsets and movies from the digital PlayStation Store to your console, Sony will remotely wipe everything overnight at the end of this month. Content will be removed from both PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 consoles.
Sony hasn't offered PlayStation owners the possibility of a refund for their digital purchases – nor an apology for the deletion. Only content from popular documentary channel Discovery will be impacted, Sony has told customers.
That means if you purchased shows such as MythBusters, An Idiot Abroad, Cake Boss, Deadliest Catch, Naked and Afraid, Say Yes To The Dress, Wheeler Dealers, American Chopper, or How It’s Made, you'll find all episodes vanish from your Sony devices after 12.01am on January 1, 2024.
The email sent to customers, first spotted by the team at Eurogamer, reads: "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. We sincerely thank you for your continued support."
Sony stopped selling films and TV shows on its digital PlayStation store, which is accessible from the games console, back in August 2021. When this decision was announced, Sony told PlayStation owners that they would still be able to access existing purchases.
Writing in a company blog post, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Head of Video Business, Vanessa Lee wrote: "We’ve seen tremendous growth from PlayStation fans using subscription-based and ad-based entertainment streaming services on our consoles.
"With this shift in customer behavior, we have decided to no longer offer movie and TV purchases and rentals through PlayStation Store as of August 31, 2021."
Lee reassured: "When this change takes effect, users can still access movie and TV content they have purchased through PlayStation Store for on-demand playback on their PS4, PS5 and mobile devices.
"We thank our fans for their continued support, and we look forward to further enhancing the entertainment experience on PlayStation."
Within a year, a licensing agreement with StudioCanal pushed Sony to wipe 314 films from PlayStation console owners in Germany. But the upcoming removal of Discovery-produced shows is on an entirely different scale.
If you have a digital library packed with your favourite shows or films from Discovery, the short timeframe means it's difficult to make the most of that content before it vanishes. There's no way to back up TV shows and films from your console to an external hard-drive.
Unfortunately, this situation is not entirely uncommon with all-digital content. Although you've made a purchase, unlike a physical product, licenses can be revoked and content can be removed from any internet-connected device without your consent. Amazon remotely wiped copies of George Orwell's classic dystopian novel 1984 from people's devices due to a rights issue back in 2009.
With any luck, there will be an announcement about a potential refund, or a way to access your purchased shows and films elsewhere into the new year. Failing that, you'll need to binge-watch any paid-for shows or films in your library before the cull at the end of the month.