Streaming giant Hulu says it will start running political ads on its platform, reversing an earlier decision to block some ads that angered many Democrats.
“After a thorough review of ad policies across its linear networks and streaming platforms over the last few months, Disney is now aligning Hulu’s political advertising policies to be consistent with the Company’s general entertainment and sports cable networks and ESPN+,” Disney said in a statement to Axios on Wednesday.
“Hulu will now accept candidate and issue advertisements covering a wide spectrum of policy positions, but reserves the right to request edits or alternative creative, in alignment with industry standards,” the statement continued.
The Walt Disney Company
owns a majority stake in Hulu, and Comcast
owns a minority share.
Some Democratic leaders and organizations had criticized Hulu for refusing to run certain ads that talked about issues such as abortion and guns.
On Tuesday, #BoycottHulu was one of the top-trending topics on Twitter
in the U.S. after the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democratic Governors Association lamented the move from Hulu to The Washington Post.
“Hulu’s censorship of the truth is outrageous, offensive, and another step down a dangerous path for our country,” Christie Roberts, Tim Persico and Noam Lee, the executive directors, respectively, of those democratic committees, said in a statement to The Washington Post. “Voters have the right to know the facts about MAGA Republicans’ agenda on issues like abortion — and Hulu is doing a huge disservice to the American people by blocking voters from learning the truth about the GOP record or denying these issues from even being discussed.”
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One of the ads that was originally denied was from Suraj Patel, a Democratic candidate for Congress in New York City. The ad was later approved after several edits were made.
“To not discuss these topics in my campaign ad is to not address the most important issues facing the United States,” Patel wrote in a letter to Disney CEO Bob Chapek and Hulu President Joe Earley. “Your ban on mobilization messaging has a perverse effect on Democracy.” Hulu is majority-owned by Disney.
Similar abortion and gun-related ads on a local ABC channel and on ESPN, two other properties that are majority owned by Disney, were approved while the same ads on Hulu were not.
According to the Post’s story, a source familiar with Hulu’s policies claims the company would decline ads that take a stance on controversial issues whether it’s a political ad or not.
Representatives from Hulu and Disney did not respond to MarketWatch’s request for comment on this story.
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Disney is set to release an ad-supported version of Disney+ in the coming months, but some media-buying executives told Variety in May they believe Disney will be selective with ads it runs by not running ads that feature alcohol, politics or rival media companies.
Hulu has 45.6 million subscribers as of May 2022.
The controversy over submitted political ads about abortion and gun control comes as the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 landmark ruling Roe v. Wade that made abortion legal at the federal level, a move that many Democrats including President Biden denounced.
Some of the conversation on social media about Hulu’s desire to run ads that feature political stances on abortion have led to some people talking about the popular Hulu series Handmaid’s Tale, which features a fictional dystopian world where women are subjugated.
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Prior to the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, polling showed a majority of Americans wanted Roe to remain intact. According to a January poll from CNN, 69% of Americans wanted to keep Roe as law, while 30% wanted the ruling completely overturned.
Polling on abortion has remained fairly consistent for over 20 years. Since 1989, between 52% and 66% of U.S. adults have stated they want Roe to remain in place, according to polling conducted and compiled by Gallup.