Hulu + Live TV Drops Sinclair Owned ABC Affiliates; Disney Not Yet Supplying National Feed Replacement
Cord-cutters who have relied on live TV streaming services to watch their local channels have had a rough go of it lately. First, a dispute between CBS and many of its local affiliates led to the channels being dropped from fuboTV, and now, Hulu + Live TV customers are experiencing the same fate with ABC affiliates owned by Sinclair Broadcasting Group (SBG).
On Wednesday, the Disney-owned live streamer sent out an email to affected customers informing them that Hulu no longer had the broadcast rights for their local ABC channel; the move was confirmed by the official Hulu Support Twitter account which included the added information that only SBG-owned affiliates were impacted.
Sorry for any upset, Kim! Sinclair owns a number of local ABC affiliates across the country and as of March 8, Hulu no longer has the rights to distribute those channels. If you have other questions, please let us know.— Hulu Support (@hulu_support) March 9, 2023
While it has not officially been said, this is almost certainly due to a carriage dispute. As the contract between the station group and Disney expired, the two sides were unable to come to financial terms to keep the affiliates on the air. In the case of CBS and Fubo, Paramount Global is supplying impacted subscribers with a national feed so that they do not miss out on any of the content owned and distributed by the network itself. As of publishing time, Disney — which owns both Hulu and ABC — has not added a national ABC feed to its streaming channel lineup.
Neither Hulu nor Sinclair has confirmed which affiliates have gone dark on the service, but SBG owns 34 channels that are either exclusively or partially run as affiliates of ABC.
Sinclair Broadcasting Group-Owned ABC Affiliates
|City of license / Market||Station|
|Amarillo, TX–Clovis, NM||KVII-TV|
|Amarillo, TX–Clovis, NM||KVIH-TV|
|Asheville, NC–Greenville–Spartanburg, SC||WLOS|
|Florence–Myrtle Beach, SC||WPDE-TV|
|Greenville–New Bern–Morehead City, NC||WCTI-TV|
|Hayes Center, NE||KWNB-TV|
|Kirksville, MO–Ottumwa, IA||KTVO|
|Little Rock, AR||KATV|
|Mobile, AL–Pensacola, FL||WEAR-TV|
|North Platte, NE||KHGI-CD|
|San Angelo, TX||KTXE-LD|
|St. Louis, MO||KDNL-TV|
|Traverse City–Cadillac–Cheboygan– Sault Ste. Marie, MI||WGTU|
|Traverse City–Cadillac–Cheboygan– Sault Ste. Marie, MI||WGTQ|
|Winston-Salem–Greensboro–High Point, NC||WXLV-TV|
This is not the only difficulty that Sinclair is experiencing currently. Its sports-focused subsidiary Diamond Sports Group, which operates the company’s collection of regional sports networks (RSNs), has missed recent payments to creditors and teams for which it owns rights and is currently working its way toward declaring bankruptcy.
Carriage dispute-caused service interruptions are not unusual and not a problem exclusive to streaming as they have been happening with cable and satellite distributors for decades. Usually, the increased pressure brought on by the disruption forces both sides to come to the table and hammer out a solution. However, with the financial difficulties that Sinclair is currently facing on multiple fronts, and the fact that Disney owns both the live-streaming service and the national network impacted, there are additional complicating factors that could prolong this situation for customers in the impacted markets.
Hulu Live TV
Hulu Live TV is a live TV streaming service with more than 70 channels for $69.99/month. Hulu + Live TV base plan includes local channels, 33 of the top 35 cable channels, and regional sports networks (RSNs). Subscribers get free access to Disney+ and ESPN+ at no extra charge.
While Disney controls both Hulu and ABC, local Sinclair affiliates who broadcast ABC were dropped from Hulu on March 8, 2023 due to a carriage dispute. However, this was resolved nearly 8 weeks later and all 28 markets are back on the service.
That being said, for the content that Hulu Live TV has (which is plenty), the service provides an unlimited DVR with the ability to skip through commercials. You also have the option to upgrade for premium channels, unlimited screens, and commercial-free access to Hulu’s on-demand library.