Sinclair ABC Stations Go Dark on Hulu Plus Live

(Image credit: Disney)

In the latest dispute between broadcasters and virtual multichannel video program distributors (aks ‘vMVPDs), Sinclair Broadcast Group has removed its ABC affiliates from the Hulu Plus Live TV service, in an apparent disagreement over carriage terms between Sinclair and The Walt Disney Group, owner of Hulu and the ABC TV network. 

Although the live feeds have been removed, Hulu Plus Live subscribers still have access to ABC on-demand content. Hulu Plus Live, which costs $70 per month had 4.5 million subscribers at the end of 2022. Sinclair owns 27 ABC affliates in markets as small as Kirksville, Mo. to the largest, Washington D.C.

Although neither has issued any formal statements, Hulu tweeted the news last night:

This current dustup is the latest illustration of how traditional retrans disputes have now bled over from cable and satellite into the streaming realm. Unlike traditional pay-TV services—in which the pay-TV operators negotiate directly with local stations—in the case of vMPVDs, which have become increasingly competitive with pay-TV operators for viewers, networks negotiate carriage agreements for their affiliates directly with the streaming services, which include Hulu, Sling, FuboTV and YouTube TV.

Last month, a number of the nation’s largest station groups, including Nexstar, Sinclair, Hearst Tegna, Gray and Cox, removed their CBS affiliates in a similar dispute with FuboTV. Although many of the stations have since been restored to the FuboTV lineup, Nexstar, the nation’s largest station group, remains a holdout as of this week. 

“We are in a dispute with CBS right now over the Fubo situation,” Tom Carter said, in a report from Variety on Tuesday. “But keep in mind that virtual MVPDs contribute less than 10% of our distribution revenue and our distribution revenue is about half of our total revenue and Fubo is the smallest vMVPD we deal with. So we’re talking about a relatively minor amount of money, quite honestly, to both us and CBS. So it’s kind of easy to pick Fubo as a fight to have.”

Tom Butts

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (, the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.