Another Hulu FAIL: All Fox Content Blocked

By Megan O'Neill Comment

Hulu has been under fire recently from Hulu Plus subscribers and industry bloggers and experts for failing to provide the quantity of programming they promised. Their catalog of episodes from ABC, NBC and Fox has been waxing and waning, with shows like Modern Family disappearing from the site and then reappearing with fewer episodes, and over the weekend things took a turn for the worse. Due to a dispute between Cablevison and News Corp, all Fox content was blocked from Hulu for Cablevision customers.

The dispute between Cablevision and News Corp is over how much Cablevision will pay Fox in retransmission fees.   Fox wants a lot more money from Cablevision (around $80 million more per year) to keep their customers watching Fox shows like The Simpsons and NFC football on Cablevision channels. However, in order to get what they want Fox extended the dispute to its web properties, denying access to Hulu subscribers and viewers trying to access the sites through Cablevision’s broadband service, as well as blocking Fox programming from Cablevision’s television channels.

Elisa Schreiber, a Hulu PR rep, told All Things Digital over the weekend that, “Unfortunately, we were put in a position of needing to block Fox content on Hulu in order to remain neutral during contract negotiations between Fox and Cablevision. This only includes Fox content. All other Hulu content is accessible to Cablevision internet subscribers. We regret the impact on Cablevision customers and look forward to returning Fox content to those users as soon as possible.”

According to USA Today, Fox content was returned to Hulu and after Fox “was hit by a barrage of complaints from consumer activists and lawmakers”, however for the time that the content was blocked there were many unhappy Cablevision, as well as Hulu customers. I should point out that Hulu had no control over the Cablevision blockage of Fox content on the site. However, that being said, I think that this whole situation is proving yet again the volatility of the video streaming industry. A paid online video service like Hulu Plus, which promises “the full current season as well as past seasons of many of your favorite TV shows”, can’t always live up to it’s promises when situations like this arise.

Was your Hulu affected by the Fox-Cablevision dispute? How do you feel about the fact that outside circumstances could lead to issues in your paid video streaming services?