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Streaming service Hulu said it would start accepting advertising on controversial political issues such as abortion rights and gun control.
The policy change follows a backlash earlier this week on social media from Democratic groups protesting the streaming service refused to run some of their ads.
“For them to prevent us from being able to communicate the gravity of the times we find ourselves in was extremely problematic for us,” said Julie Norton, founding partner of Mosaic Communications, a media consultancy that buys ads for Democratic clients. .
Since Hulu’s parent company, Disney, announced on Wednesday that it would align the streamer with its cable services and allow political ads to air, Norton said his company may now be able to work with the streamer.
“We just have a broader definition of television these days,” Norton said. “These platforms are therefore an extremely important way of getting our persuasive advertising to voters.”
Unlike television networks, streaming platforms like Hulu and Netflix are not required to comply with the Communications Act of 1934 – the law that requires broadcasters to provide political advertisers with equal access to the airwaves.
Broadcast television is still expected to lead this fall’s cycle with more than $4 billion worth of election ads, according to political watchdog Kantar CMAG vice president Steve Passwaiter.
But Passwaiter said streaming services have great potential to reach younger, more segmented audiences.
“It’s become the new darling of the political set,” Passwaiter said. “And probably at the end of this cycle, there will be a billion and a half dollars that will end up in these ad-supported streaming outlets.”
Passwaiter said it won’t be long before streamers end up looking a lot like broadcast and cable channels in terms of the volume — and range — of ads across the political spectrum.
But Mike Shields, founder and partner of Republican political marketing and strategy firm Convergence Media, said his company is waiting to see who can place ads with Hulu and how those ads are handled before considering it a win for its customers. clients.
“Conservatives have every right to be skeptical when something like this happens to make sure it’s done in a fair and balanced way,” Shields said.
In its announcement, shared with NPR via email, Disney said, “Hulu will now accept applicants and run ads covering a wide range of political positions.” But the company “always reserves the right to request changes [to meet] industry standards.”