DIRECTV and Hulu are under attack from critics of conservative commentator Sean Hannity for advertising on his Fox News Channel show.
The protests, led by the liberal media watchdog, Media Matters, center on Hannity’s coverage of conspiracy theories surrounding the mysterious death of Seth Rich, a former staffer to the Democratic National Committee.
Rich was murdered in 2016 while walking home from a Washington, D.C. bar. While police have said it appears to have been a robbery attempt, nothing was taken from Rich, fueling unproven rumors he was killed for leaking DNC documents to Wikileaks.
Hannity has frequently cited the rumors on his show, although Rich’s family has lodged protests, saying his death should not be “politicized.” The controversy led to Media Matters this week printing the names of advertisers on his show, including DIRECTV and Hulu, which has triggered calls for a boycott of those companies.
Social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, are overflowing with threats from consumers that they will stop subscribing to DIRECTV (and DIRECTV Now) and Hulu if they don’t pull their ads from Hannity’s show.
DIRECTV and Hulu are in a no-win position because numerous Hannity supporters say they will not subscribe to their TV services if they do pull their ads. In the increasingly competitive pay TV market, the loss of a significant number of subscribers for any reason is cause for concern.
To date, DIRECTV and Hulu have not commented on the protests, but their frequency on social media sites seem to be increasing with each day. A few advertisers including Cars.com have already announced that they will pull their ads from the Hannity show.
— Phillip Swann