Tri-State Hulu Live TV Customers No Longer have ABC 25 – Here’s Why
After much debate at my house (and a continually rising cable bill), we finally decided to cut the cord and make the switch to streaming services. But, I'm a bit old fashioned when it comes to my TV watching. I like to be able to turn on the TV and cycle through a channel guide to find something worth watching. I still watch local news in the evening, and a number of shows I like are on the major networks. So, along with Netflix, ESPN+, and Disney+, we added Hulu with the Live TV option (and we're still spending nearly $150 less a month than we did with cable). It's been great so far. That was until last night when I pulled up the guide and noticed WEHT (ABC 25) wasn't there any more.
In it's place were several different ABC options. By "several," I mean probably 30 or 40, if not more. All I know is it took me what felt like forever to scroll past them all to see the next channels on the guide (they're in alphabetical order). Many of them were different ABC network feeds, some were ABC affiliates in other cities. None of them were WEHT-ABC 25 which was on my guide earlier in the day.
The reason? A contract renewal dispute between WEHT's parent company, Nexstar Media Group, Inc. and Hulu.
The two companies current agreement expired on October 15th (2020), and WEHT had been giving customers a heads up to the possibility they would no longer be available on the streaming service through pre-recorded announcements, as well as the headline ticker that runs along the bottom of the screen during local newscasts.
The station also posted a statement about the situation on a website called, keepmystation.com which read, in part,
WEHT has presented a proposal for fair value, based on the importance and value our programming brings to our viewers. Despite our tireless efforts, Hulu + Live TV has refused our fair offer and is making negotiations very difficult. You’ve might have seen them do this before. They will tell you it’s for your benefit, but don’t believe it. Our offer is fair. And now they hold you the subscriber hostage. It’s not right.
Hulu sent customers like me an e-mail about the situation on October 16th which read,
We wanted to let you know as soon as we could that, as of today (10/16/2020), Hulu no longer has the rights to distribute the local ABC affiliate that was previously included with your Live TV plan. However, we're going to continue giving you access to live ABC network programming.
You may start to notice some changes — including your local news and syndicated programs on ABC are no longer available — but you'll still be able to keep up with many of your favorite live ABC primetime shows, sports, and more.
When or if this dispute will be resolved is unknown. Nexstar has had similar disputes with other providers in the past, including AT&T which lasted two months. Let's hope that's not the case here.
Despite the issue, you can still get WEHT on other streaming services, including YouTube TV, and of course you can also plug a digital antenna into the back of your TV and catch the over the air broadcast. But, who wants to hassle with switching inputs on the TV to do that? Not me, because I'm lazy. Also, one of the reasons I went with Hulu was because it offered local channels. If I'm going to keep paying a monthly fee, I want all my local channels. Not some of them.