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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Sling Orange
SlingTV app
$20 first month
31 channels
1 stream
50 hours DVR

Sign up

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.

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John Finn

By John Finn

John started Streaming Better to help consumers navigate the live TV streaming and subscription service landscape. John has been editing and writing about technology and streaming for online publications since 2014, and believes the best streaming approach is to rotate between services as needed.

John's preferred live TV streaming service right now is YouTube TV although he does tend to switch live TV services multiple times each year to keep up to date with their changes. Outside of live TV, John also actively streams HBO Max (for the shows), Peacock (for Premier League), and Paramount Plus (for Champion's League). However, John is also currently subscribed to Apple TV+, Discovery+, Hulu, Starz, Showtime, and Shudder.

Contact John via email at john@streamingbetter.com or say hi on Twitter

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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