Randy Freer has been named CEO of Hulu. He will replace Mike Hopkins, who is departing to join Sony as chairman of Sony Pictures Television. Like Hopkins before him, Freer comes from the Fox Networks Group where he has been president and COO since 2013. Also like Hopkins, Freer already is a Hulu board member. His appointment as Hulu CEO is effective Monday. He will be based at Hulu’s headquarters in Los Angeles. There is no immediate replacement for Freer at FNG.
“We want to thank Mike for his leadership in steering Hulu to its current era of growth and success,” the Hulu board said in a statement. “Randy has a unique knowledge of Hulu and expertise building consensus among its owners, and an excellent track record leading a complex organization at the nexus of the television business. There’s no better candidate to lead Hulu as it embarks on its next chapter.”
Freer is taking over a company that is in much better shape than it was in 2013 when Hopkins became CEO. Hopkins was appointed chief executive amid turmoil at the streaming service, co-owned by 21st Century Fox, Disney, NBCUniversal and Time Warner, which had been run by an interim CEO at the time while its owners were exploring a sale. Over the past four years, Hopkins has built up the company, which doubled revenue and tripled its market valuation and recently made Emmy history with 10 statuettes, becoming the first streaming service to land a Best Series Emmy for breakout drama The Handmaid’s Tale.
Hulu recently bolstered its programming ranks with the appointment of AMC’s Joel Stillerman as Chief Content Officer.
“Leading Hulu for the past four years has been the single most meaningful experience of my career. It has been an enormous privilege to work with this vibrant, creative and fearless team to build Hulu into the success it is today,” said Hopkins. “I want to thank Rupert, Bob, James, Lachlan and the entire Hulu board for giving me this opportunity, and I am especially grateful to the more than 2,000 Hulugans who make Hulu such an inspiring place to be.”
As it became clear that Hopkins was planning to take the Sony TV job and leave Hulu, the company’s board started discussing a succession plan and offered the CEO job to Freer, a 20-year Fox veteran, who accepted.
“Hulu is at the center of transformation in entertainment,” Freer said. “Hulu’s management team and employees have positioned Hulu to be a leader in defining the future of content creation, distribution and monetization – all while putting the viewer first.”
As president and COO of Fox Networks Group, Freer oversaw revenue, distribution, operations, business development and strategy for all aspects of the Fox Television Group, FX, Fox Sports and National Geographic Partners, and was responsible for rights acquisitions and team and league relationships on behalf of Fox Sports.
Freer previously served as co-president and COO, Fox Sports Media Group. He oversaw the negotiations that led to long-term agreements with the NFL, Major League Baseball, NASCAR, and the USGA, as well as with the Pac-12, Big 12, and Big East conferences. Freer also played a significant role in Fox’s acquisitions of the World Cup and the Ultimate Fighting Championship.