Nothing’s apolitical in 2022, least of all a streaming platform owned by a giant media company. Following an online backlash, Disney announced this morning that it has reversed its previous stance of blocking political advertisements on Hulu. The drama kicked off Monday, when Democratic organizations called the streamer out for rejecting a pair of ads concerning abortion and gun violence, driving the hashtag #BoycottHulu up to Twitter’s top trending topics by Tuesday morning. A day later, the Mouse backpedaled: “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+.” However, when sister streamer Disney+ rolls out an ad-supported tier later this year, it won’t allow political or alcohol ads — to keep things kid-friendly on the service that just added Deadpool and Logan to its mix.
The ads currently in question take Republicans to task for the undoing of abortion protections and the dramatic rise of American gun violence in recent years. (The U.S. has seen 371 mass shootings so far in 2022, and a dozen states have banned abortion in the wake of the fall of Roe v. Wade with several more expected to follow.) This latest Disney incident, like the earlier blow-up over the company’s response to so-called “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, underscores the trouble the company has had navigating increasingly fraught American political discourse. Disney’s statement today added, “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.”