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The Struggle To Stream Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Continues

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It’s that time of the year when live TV streaming subscribers are likely to encounter a “This program is unavailable for streaming” warning message a little more often than usual. Specifically, when attempting to watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. While it might seem strange that such a movie could be at the heart of a streaming issue, it is, and the struggle to stream the popular movie is as real as ever.

While this is not a new issue, it is one that’s now resurfacing again. Not only is Christmas a time when more people are likely to want to watch a movie like Rudolph, but it is also a time when broadcasters are showing movies like this more frequently. That’s exactly what’s already happened with Rudolph. CBS recently announced its Holiday season schedule which this year includes Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. In fact, the first showing was on November 29th, and as expected, those attempting to stream the movie were met with a warning message.

The exact wording of the message varied depending on the service. For example, while YouTube TV subscribers see a “This program is unavailable for streaming” warning, DirecTV Stream subscribers encounter a “The broadcast provider restricted access to this program” and Hulu Live TV subscribers see a “This content is not available due to rights restrictions or because it is not included with your subscription” message. Either way, the end result is the same.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is next due to be shown live on CBS on December 10th. Once again, those attempting to stream the movie on CBS will encounter the exact same warning message. Even though it is being shown on CBS, and the subscriber is paying for a subscription that includes access to CBS, this is one of those rare instances where the digital streaming rights are different to the traditional broadcast rights.

Put simply, you can watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on CBS if you have access to CBS through a cable or satellite service, or access to the over-the-air local CBS station. However, you cannot watch Rudolph if you stream CBS, and this also includes streaming CBS through Paramount Plus. While CBS owns the rights to Rudolph, it doesn’t own the streaming rights. Instead, Freeform does.

You can stream Rudolph on Freeform

The good news, if you can call it that, is that Freeform is also planning to show Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer over the holidays, and as the Disney-owned network owns the streaming rights to the movie, there should be no issues watching it. Freeform has already released its “25 Days of Christmasschedule, which includes showing times for all of its holiday-themed content this year, including Home Alone, Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

For those specifically interested in watching Rudolph, here’s the December 2022 schedule:

  • Saturday, Dec. 3 at 9:15 pm ET / 6:15 pm PT
  • Sunday, Dec. 4 at 5:35 pm ET / 2:35 pm PT
  • Wednesday, Dec. 21 at 9 pm ET / 6 pm PT
  • Thursday, Dec. 22 at 8 pm ET / 5 pm PT
  • Saturday, Dec. 24 at 5:45 pm ET / 2:45 pm PT
  • Sunday, Dec. 25 at 11 am ET / 8 am PT

Tuning in at any of these times with a live TV streaming service that includes Freeform will make it possible to watch Rudolph. For reference, DirecTV Stream, fuboTV, Hulu Live TV, Sling TV, Vidgo, and YouTube TV all carry Freeform, so subscribers to any of these services won’t need to do anything other than tune in to the right channel.

For those without a current live TV package, at $40 per month, Sling TV is going to be the cheapest way to watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on Freeform. Sling offers two main plans with Sling Orange the only one that unlocks access to Freeform.

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For reference, this issue doesn’t only affect Rudolph, but Frosty as well. For the exact same reason, Frosty the Snowman isn’t available to stream on CBS, even though it is available to watch on CBS for cable and satellite customers. Again, the solution is Freeform, which will be showing Frosty the Snowman multiple times during December 2022.

John Finn
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John Finn

By John Finn

John Finn is the Founder and Editor of Streaming Better, a platform created in 2019 to help consumers navigate the complicated live TV streaming and subscription service market.

John has been covering technology for various online publications since 2014. After originally covering the wider tech industry as a writer and editor, John now spends his time focusing on the emerging video-streaming market, including live TV streaming, SVOD, AVOD, FAST, and TVOD services.

In a bid to keep up to date on the industry, John actively subscribes to multiple streaming services at the same time. However, John continues to advocate that the best approach for consumers is to rotate between streaming services as needed.

A Psychology graduate from England, who now lives in the US, John previously worked in the aviation industry as an airline reviewer. While reviewing airlines isn't quite the same as reviewing devices and streaming services, John brings the same analytical eye to all of his reviews and industry analysis, along with a special emphasis on what's best for the consumer.

Connect with John
X: @J_Finns

6 replies on “The Struggle To Stream Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Continues”

Well. The first one did not stream. Shows it should right now and just like last year it is a Mindy Kaling film instead. This is ridiculous

Frosty and Rudolph on freeform were NOT available on my streaming service last night . We have directv stream . Based on a fb post I read , most streaming services were blocked . They aired another program in their place on directv stream.

Multiple attempts to watch are met with a substitution of some lame live action movie. Freeform is not streaming these, but they are promoting that they do and showing it on the schedule.

Same as the above, they’re showing some cut-rate…thing…where the Rudolph showing should be. Freeform are liars.

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