Why are Episodes of Survivor Missing on Hulu?


When it comes to reality television, there are few, if any shows more famous than the Survivor franchise. Arguably the show that popularized the genre of television from the beginning back in the 90s, the idea of watching these people competing in physical challenges, forming alliances, and backstabbing each other appealed to a ton of viewers. Some episodes of Survivor are available on Hulu, but why aren’t all episodes available?

There is not an official reason why Survivor has some episodes missing, but solid speculation is that they are missing due to music rights complications. Music licensing is a particularly tricky thing to deal with, and Hulu would have to pay extra for these particular episodes.

Below, we will look deeper into Survivor’s missing episodes, as well as surrounding elements of the show on Hulu.

Why are Episodes of Survivor Missing on Hulu?

As mentioned above, the reason why not every episode of Survivor is available on Hulu is, in all likelihood, because of an issue to do with music rights. Survivor, being a massively popular show in its day, could afford to license music. However, Hulu is not so big that it could reasonably afford to license these episodes.

Why is music licensing so tricky?

The reason why music licensing is such a sticky affair to deal with is due to the fact that licensers can be a little strict with music as it is played. See, it is not simply a matter of needing to pay money to include a certain song in your show or movie or YouTube video. Indeed, as many will report, even singing a song may be enough to get the license holder to demand payment (especially on YouTube, where they have outsized power over content creators).

In addition to these details, music is often not owned by only one party, and thus, you may have to consult with multiple parties if you even want to consider getting the rights to using a song or album in your work. You might have to worry about composition and recording rights being owned by separate entities, and if one is willing and the other isn’t, that makes things way more complicated. This can also become complicated if it is simply a matter of someone in the show singing a song, which means that you either have to cut it out or pay money for something potentially inconsequential.

And honestly, it’s not even a matter of fees necessarily being exorbitant that makes things frustrating to handle (although admittedly, many licensers can certainly ask for way too much money), as it’s mainly just a highly complicated process that may turn out to be a lot more trouble than it is worth. Thus, as Hulu has done here, the service opted to simply not deal with the hassle and only release the Survivor episodes they could possibly license.

What episodes of Survivor are not on Hulu?

In a lot of situations, it would not be at all surprising to see only limited episodes due to the service not having the rights to certain seasons of a TV show. It may even be unsurprising that one or two episodes are missing due to complicated legal rights. However, in Survivor’s case, it goes well beyond just one or two episodes, and it runs the risk of making some Survivor content unwatchable (not optimally anyway).

If you are just looking to watch the first season of Survivor, the good news is that every episode is available to watch on Hulu. It’s season 2 where things get troublesome, as episodes 2, 3, 9, and 11 are all unavailable on Hulu. That comprises a fourth of all of season 2’s episodes, and you will inevitably be confused about why some characters are no longer on the show, since you missed their elimination round.

Beyond season 2, the selection of episodes is a significantly mixed bag; for example, where season 3 has all episodes again, season 4 does not even have its first two episodes! Once it hits season 11, however, that’s where things go off the rails, and entire seasons of Survivor begin to stop showing up on Hulu, with no apparent rhyme or reason why one is on and another isn’t. Further, while Survivor has had 41 seasons of television (with a 42nd in progress as of the writing of this article), Hulu has only up to season 37.

Will the remaining Survivor episodes be put on Hulu?

While Survivor has a large number of episodes available on Hulu — 354 episodes across 25 seasons — there’s no denying that having missing episodes in the middle of seasons, and missing seasons altogether, is a downer. So the question is, will Hulu ever rectify this? Is there any hope that Hulu might bring the complete Survivor collection to their viewers?

Honestly, we don’t think that is very likely. Survivor licensing itself is not the cheapest thing in the world, but when you get into the matter of music rights, it is probably more likely that Hulu would forgo all of Survivor rather than pay to fill in the blanks that currently exist. On the other hand, given that the license holder for Survivor is trying to promote their own streaming service, it is also unlikely that Hulu will see any more seasons of Survivor past season 37.

Where can I watch the missing Survivor episodes?

In order to actually see the whole of the Survivor series, your best bet is to subscribe to Paramount+. This is not generally people’s first choice when it comes to streaming service, but there is no denying that for Survivor fanatics, this is going to be the easiest, cheapest, and most legal way to watch through it all. It would also seem that episodes missing from seasons, such as the missing episodes in season 2, are present on Paramount+.

As mentioned above, it is not likely that Survivor will hit Hulu, but so long as CBS is attempting to win over subscribers, we don’t expect they will license out Survivor (unless the price is right). It’s just too much of a draw to give up.

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