After six years, a magical era of witchcraft and wizardry is reaching its finale on Freeform — the network’s “Harry Potter” Weekends are officially coming to an end at the start of the New Year.
The switch was caused by NBC Universal sealing a deal to bring Harry Potter to HBO under an exclusive licensing window, meaning Freeform is no longer allowed to screen the franchise on their channel after January 1, 2018.
The last ever Freeform “Harry Potter” Weekend will take place from Dec. 28-31, but viewers who do have the HBO channel will be getting much more than just one “Harry Potter” Weekend — HBO is airing all eight of the movies on Jan. 1, followed by one movie from the franchise per night at 8 p.m. Jan.2 through Jan. 9.
For some Penn State students and “Harry Potter” fanatics, it doesn’t matter how hard HBO tries to make their “Harry Potter” airings as explosive as Freeform “Harry Potter” Weekends — to students like Olivia Kramer, marathoning the series won’t feel the same again.
Kramer (sophomore-division of undergraduate studies) has been reading the books and watching the movies for practically as long as she can remember. For her, Harry Potter Weekends bring back nostalgia of deepening friendships while simultaneously falling in love with the series many times over.
“My best friend from home and I are both uber obsessed,” Kramer said. “We would bake cookies and then spend hours watching [Harry Potter Weekends] on marathon. That was our thing.”
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For others, like Lexi Ambrose and Nikki Romaglia, Harry Potter Weekends remind them of their family ties — Ambrose (senior-communication sciences and disorders) recalls getting into the movies with her older cousin while Romaglia (sophomore-public relations) associates Harry Potter Weekends with holiday decorating surrounded by loved ones.
“Every time we decorate the tree we try to decorate it during a Harry Potter Weekend,” Romaglia said. “‘Harry Potter’ Weekends have just become a staple of the Christmas season in my household.”
Harry Potter binge watching won’t be over for Ambrose and Romaglia though, as they both have the HBO channel and streaming services.
For as much as Ambrose enjoys watching the series on Freeform, she doesn’t feel the removal of “Harry Potter” Weekends will actually be as drastic a change as fans are predicting.
“I honestly don’t think it’s a big deal,” Ambrose said. “They used to have ‘Harry Potter’ Weekends every other weekend and it got the point where I was like ‘This isn’t even a special thing anymore.”
For those like Kramer who do not own HBO packages, though, the feeling is perhaps a little more bitter sweet.
Kramer acknowledged she could watch them on DVD if she really wanted to. In fact, she understands it’s actually less convenient to watch them with commercials on Freeform. But for her, the serendipity in stumbling across a “Harry Potter Weekend” on the channel guide as opposed to planning to watch it on DVD is what makes the experience all the more magical.
Feeling like she will no longer have that element of surprise, as well as a myriad of other non-HBO subscribing fans, because of the upcoming switch is disappointing to her.
“I could just put a [‘Harry Potter’] DVD in whenever but the best is when you’re scrolling through the channels and you’re like ‘Oh my gosh, it’s a “Harry Potter” Weekend,’ Kramer said. “You just get sucked in. You can’t stop watching.”
It is still undetermined if HBO will also adopt “Harry Potter” marathons in the long term, but for now, in addition to airing on HBO’s channel, HBO’s online services such as HBO Now will unlock all eight movies for streaming as well on Jan. 1.