Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer
Source: CBS

If 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' Airs on CBS, What Does that Mean for Hulu Users?


Mar. 22 2021, Updated 3:15 p.m. ET

With the holiday season in near full swing, people are marking their calendars for the classic movies and television shows that air at this time of year.

Watching these shows are a yearly tradition for many families so when they tuned in to watch one of their favorites, they were upset when they simply weren't able to. Why was Rudolph blocked on Hulu and YouTubeTV? Here's what we know.  

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Why can't you watch 'Rudolph' on Hulu and YouTubeTV?

On Dec. 1, 2020, the classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was set to air on CBS at 8 p.m. ET. But, when viewers tuned in to watch on Hulu, they found that the Christmas movie was blocked on the service. People who had tuned in to watch the show on Hulu + LiveTV, which typically allows users to watch CBS shows live, were blacked out. 

rudolph the red nosed reindeer hulu
Source: CBS
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According to details given by users who tried to watch, they were met with a screen telling them they could not view the content. "This content has been blacked out due to rights restrictions," the screen read instead. It seems the only way to watch the 1964 stop-motion animated Christmas classic was to tune in live on CBS cable or through CBS's own streaming service, CBS All Access.

It didn't take long for people to share their disappointment on social media. Both CBS and Hulu accounts were flooded with people wondering why they're paying so much money for a service and can't get holiday movies. 

"@hulu no Rudolph the Red [Nosed] Reindeer from my local station tonight?" one person tweeted. "Might be time to end the streaming and get the cable back." 

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The company tweeted back apologizing, "Sorry for any disappointment! Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is blacked out on CBS due to streaming rights. While these restrictions are determined by the rights holders, we'll be sure to pass along your feedback to the proper parties."

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"@hulu @CBSNewYork What the hell does this mean? I pay you guys like $55 a month and for some stupid reason it won't let me watch Rudolph. @hulu_support What is going on here?" another tweeted, alongside an image of the screen Hulu users were met with when they attempted to watch the holiday special.

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Those who have YouTubeTV were met with the same issues. When YouTubeTV users attempted to watch the show, they were met with a screen saying, "This program is unavailable for streaming on the internet."

According to Vox, subscribers to Hulu have options to level up their pay tiers to have access to live TV as well. This gives subscribers the ability to tune in to programming without having to pay for cable TV. The plans aren't cheap — the publication says that the packages with live TV start at $54.00 per month on top of the Basic plan or even more for those on the Premium plan. YouTubeTV costs $64.99 per month and, yes, it is meant to include "your local CBS."

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Since CBS owns the rights to the classic Christmas show, they were able to decide to block it on streaming services, even for those who pay for live TV packages. As Rudolph is set to air multiple times throughout the holiday season, we will likely expect that it will be blocked on Hulu and YouTubeTV when it airs on CBS.

However, the special is also airing on Freeform on Dec. 5, Dec. 6, Dec. 19, Dec. 20, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. We will have to wait and see if Rudolph will be blocked when it airs on Freeform instead of CBS. 

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