Hulu is making a statement in the original content arena with the hire of seasoned TV development executive Craig Erwich. Erwich, who recently exited his post as president of Warner Horizon, has been tapped as SVP and head of content to lead the content and programming strategy for Hulu and Hulu Plus. This marks one of the first major hires for new Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins, who made the announcement. “Craig is ready to hit the ground running and lead us as we increase our overall content offerings,” Hopkins said. “Craig is the perfect guy for the job — he has been developing shows and programming networks for over 20 years. He has impressed me and others who’ve met him with his collaborative approach, humility and tenacity to do what he believes.” While Hulu has had traction with some originals, including animated comedy The Awesomes, which returns for Season 2 this summer, the online service has been overshadowed by rivals Netflix and Amazon, which have established slates of network-quality comedy and drama series that, in the case of Netflix, already go toe to toe with the traditional network fare for awards consideration. Hiring an experienced TV executive like Erwich signals Hulu’s intention to become a major player in the arena and possibly expand into drama. Hulu’s next original series, comedy Deadbeat starring Tyler Labine, debuts April 9.
During his six-year tenure at Warner Horizon, Erwich oversaw the unit’s transformation into a major cable player claiming the top-rated series on two networks – Rizzoli & Isles on TNT and Pretty Little Liars on ABC Family. Additionally, Warner Horizon is behind Lomgmire, A&E’s most watched original scripted series ever; Dallas on TNT; and Sullivan & Son and Ground Floor on TBS. Before that, Erwich was EVP at Fox where he shepherded the development of such series as Prison Break, 24 and House.
In his memo announcing Erwich’s hire, Hopkins shared an anecdote about Erwich that references Erwich’s early career stint at Stephen J. Cannell Prods. “Even given Craig’s vast experience in the business, when I asked him to share his favorite ‘TV’ moment, you might be surprised to know that it was when he was a kid. In Craig’s own words: ‘My favorite show was ‘The A-Team’ – it’s one of the shows that got me into television. Later in my career, when I worked for Stephen Cannell, who created the show, I remember sitting in his office and thinking this is exactly what I dreamed about as a kid! My mom used to claim that I always used to watch way too much TV – well I guess my mom was right, because here I am, still watching way too much TV, and loving every minute of it.'”