The new Hulu CEO is best known for his years crafting carriage deals for Fox cable channels including FX and, more recently, Fox Sports 1. That suggests a change in strategy — a shift in focus from producing content to expanding distribution — for the streaming service controlled by Fox, Disney and Comcast. Mike Hopkins replaces Andy Forssell, the former SVP Content who championed original programming including The Awesomes after he replaced Jason Kilar on an interim basis beginning in March — and now is leaving Hulu. Hopkins “has a strong understanding of programming, digital distribution and consumer behavior, and a great vision for Hulu’s next chapter,” says Disney/ABC Television Group President Anne Sweeney. Hulu’s fate was in doubt early this year. The owners entertained bids for it before deciding in July to keep it, and supply $750M to accelerate its growth. Many believe that backers will invest even more to turn it into a full-fledged competitor to Netflix, especially as recent shows from broadcast and pay TV services begin to appear on cable and satellite TV Everywhere streaming platforms. Liberty Media’s John Malone raised that possibility last week. And last month Disney CEO Bob Iger said that Netflix hadn’t yet cornered the streaming video market, presumably leaving room for Hulu. Here’s today’s release from Hulu:
LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Hulu Board of Directors today named Mike Hopkins the Company’s new CEO. Hopkins, a Hulu Board Director since 2011, has served as President of Distribution for Fox Networks Group, a division of 21st Century Fox, since 2008. Mr. Hopkins will be based at Hulu’s headquarters in Los Angeles, and his appointment is effective immediately.
Andy Forssell, who has served as acting CEO since March 2013, will be leaving the Company.
“After an extensive search, Mike was simply the best candidate for the job. He has a strong understanding of programming, digital distribution and consumer behavior, and a great vision for Hulu’s next chapter,” said Anne Sweeney, co-chairman, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group.
“On behalf of the Hulu board I want to thank Andy Forssell for his leadership during this past year, and for the vital role he played in building Hulu into the amazing product it is today. We wish him the best on his next venture,” said Peter Rice, Chairman and CEO of Fox Networks Group. “With Mike’s appointment, and its owners fully aligned and committed to seizing the incredible opportunities that lie ahead, we look forward to a very bright future for Hulu.”
Mike Hopkins commented: “The team at Hulu has created a beloved user experience that feeds the undeniable need for quality, convenience and ease of use. I am honored to have the opportunity to work with this dynamic, innovative team. I want to thank the folks at Disney and Fox, especially Anne Sweeney and Peter Rice, for this amazing opportunity. I’m looking forward to working with our creative partners, advertisers and distributors as we continue to build Hulu.”
A media veteran with an accomplished track record of both building innovative television products and negotiating landmark distribution agreements, Mr. Hopkins brings more than 20 years of video experience to Hulu. While President of Distribution for Fox Networks, he oversaw the distribution strategy, sales and marketing for Fox’s 45 linear and non-linear U.S. channels, as well as on-demand and digital extensions. Mr. Hopkins’ team also developed many of the television industry’s leading authenticated and digital video products, including BTN2GO and Fox Now.