Hulu is next in the line of cable providers and streaming services to lose locals due to disputes with broadcasters. Some viewers started receiving scrolling on-screen notices over the weekend, letting them know that their CBS station could be removed from Hulu.
It looks like this is only affecting Sinclair-owned CBS stations for now. Previously, Hulu and most other streamers dropped Sinclair-owned Fox regional sports networks. Hulu said the decision was caused by being “unable to reach an agreement with Sinclair Broadcast Group.” fuboTV dropped the same channels in January, YouTube TV dropped them in March, and Sling removed the channels last year.
It’s possible that the current negotiations for local channels have something to do with Sinclair looking to get those RSNs back to being widely distributed. The broadcasting group took a major hit in Q3, with an operating loss of $4.18 billion, due in part to the streaming services dropping the channels. Sinclair may have put pressure on Hulu to pay the higher fees to carry all of the channels and a refusal to do so could be putting the CBS locals in jeopardy of being pulled.
The news of Hulu now potentially losing Sinclair’s CBS stations comes just after AT&T and Dish both saw huge blackouts due to disputes with broadcasters. AT&T removed 60 Tegna-owned locals in 52 markets on December 1. Just after that, Nexstar pulled access to its 164 local channels in 120 markets across 42 states for Dish customers. AT&T and Dish each pointed to broadcasters asking for large increases in fees for carrying the channels as the reason for the blackouts.