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

Devan McGuinness - Author

Nov. 29 2022, Updated 8:25 p.m. ET

Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer
Source: CBS

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 Nov. 29, 2022, the classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was set to air on CBS at 8 p.m. EST. 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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This isn't a one-off situation, as the same issue occurred in 2021, 2020, and 2019 as well. 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 is unavailable due to rights restrictions or because it is not included with your subscription," the screen read instead. It seems the only way to watch the 1964 stop-motion animated Christmas classic is to tune in live on CBS cable, buy it on Prime Video, or tune in when the movie airs as part of Freeform's 25 Days of Christmas. (More on that later!)

Each time that this has happened, it hasn't taken long for people to share their disappointment on social media. Both CBS and Hulu accounts have been flooded with people wondering why they're paying so much money for a service and can't get holiday movies.

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The company has tweeted back apologizing, "This airing is blacked out on our service due to streaming rights (https://hulu.tv/LiveTVAvail-). Blackouts are determined by the various rights holders, but we’ll share your feedback with the right team here."

Hulu also had provided a link with more explanation as to why these sorts of blackouts occur, saying that rights holders have the ability to "affect availability across various broadcast and cable TV services."

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

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Since 1972, CBS has had the rights to the classic Christmas show, which means that CBS has the power to decide to block it on streaming services. As of 2019, according to Decider, those rights are now shared with Freeform, which is owned by the Walt Disney Company, so that Rudolph can be a part of the 25 Days of Christmas line-up.

Considering that the Walt Disney Company also has a majority stake in Hulu, it's possible that Hulu will be allowed to air Rudolph when it arrives for 25 Days of Christmas this year. Freeform is scheduled to run Rudolph on Dec. 3, 4, 21, 22, 24, and 25.

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