Sinclair warns some CBS locals could be dropped from Hulu

A still frame from a local news broadcast on Sinclair-owned CBS station WWMT warns of an impending carriage dispute with Hulu. (Graphic by The Desk)

Some local CBS affiliates may be removed from Hulu’s Live TV service due to a contract dispute involving Sinclair Broadcast Group, according to notices received by customers.

Last week, viewers in a handful of markets where Sinclair operates the local CBS affiliate station began spotting a crawling message that warned of an upcoming carriage dispute involving the channels.

The on-air crawls appeared come several months after Hulu dropped regional Fox Sports-branded stations from its live TV service. Hulu is owned by the Walt Disney Company.

“Attention Hulu customers: Hulu has already dropped [a regional] Fox Sports [channel] and this CBS station could be next,” the message read.

The issue only appears to affect Sinclair-owned CBS affiliates and does not extend to other local TV stations operated by the company. There was no indication as to when the stations would be lost if a new agreement between the two sides isn’t reached.

Hulu is not the only one to drop Sinclair’s regional sports stations stations this year: In January, sports-centric streaming service Fubo TV also dropped the channels, followed by a similar move involving YouTube TV two months later. YouTube TV also removed the Sinclair-owned Tennis Channel in late November.

The loss of Sinclair-owned CBS affiliate stations on Hulu would continue a disturbing trend of carriage disputes between programmers like Sinclair and distributors like Hulu in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, AT&T yanked more than five dozen local stations owned by TEGNA from its satellite service DirecTV and fiber-based TV service U-Verse after both sides failed to reach a new contractual agreement for the channels. One day later, Dish Network removed around 160 local broadcast channels owned by Nexstar Media for the same reason.