Oscar Fans With Hulu in Sinclair Markets Saw ‘Everything Everywhere’ Win Despite ABC Blackout

Jimmy Kimmel hosts 2023 Oscars
Jimmy Kimmel hosted the Oscars Sunday Night (Image credit: hoto by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Despite a blackout of Sinclair Broadcast Group- owned ABC affiliates, Hulu Plus Live TV subscribers in Sinclair markets were able to stream Sunday night’s Oscars telecast.

A national feed of the Jimmy Kimmel-hosted coverage of the Academy Awards on ABC, owned by The Walt Disney Co., was made available by the Disney-controlled virtual multichannel video programming distributor (vMVPD), sources confirmed.

The feed was available only during the awards show, one of the most-viewed non-sports telecasts in most years. After the telecast, ABC again went dark in markets where Sinclair owns the ABC affiliates.

Also: Disney Sells Out Oscar Commercials At Prices Between $1.6-$2.1 Million

The feed could breach Sinclair’s affiliation agreement with ABC, although vMVPDs are treated differently from a legal and regulatory point of view than traditional cable and satellite MVPDs.

In its talks with Hulu, Sinclair is seeking carriage of its Tennis Channel, sources said.

Neither ABC nor Sinclair executives would comment on the record.

Negotiations with vMVPDs turned awkward this year, first with CBS affiliates opting out of a deal crafted by CBS owner Paramount Global and FuboTV, and then with Sinclair pulling its signals from Hulu. 

The CBS situation escalated when the network provided Fubo TV with a national feed of CBS programming, with local news and other station programming replaced by material from CBS.

Until Sunday night, ABC had not made network programming available to Hulu Plus Live TV subscribers. ABC shows can be found on Hulu the day after it airs on the network.

Late last week, the CBS Affiliate Board said it endorsed a new offer from Paramount and CBS that puts affiliates’ signals on FuboTV, Hulu Plus Live TV, YouTube TV and Paramount Plus.

“If a crisis between national nets and local stations was emerging, it now appears averted,” Wells Fargo media analyst Steven Cahall noted. “The CBS affiliate board has adopted a new deal for vMVPD carriage. Nexstar has also announced a carriage deal with YouTube TV showing larger broadcasters can go direct. Both deals indicate vMVPDs are not indifferent to local content.”

Cahall noted that Sinclair’s ABC affiliates “remain off of Hulu Live TV, and it looks like ABC offered its national feed to these subs last night during the Oscars.”  ■

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.