Eight months after Disney took full control of Hulu, Disney is moving forward with integrating Hulu into its business operations under Direct-to-Consumer & International chairman Kevin Mayer. As part of the restructuring, Hulu CEO Randy Freer has stepped down. The top executives across Hulu operations, like distribution, sales, marketing, will now report directly into the corresponding DTCI business leads.
The realignment puts all Disney-owned and -operated streaming platforms — Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu — under the same centralized leadership. The three already have been bundled together in offerings to consumers since the November launch of Disney+.
There already has been integration of Hulu operations under Disney executives in the original programming area, which stopped reporting to Freer last summer when Dana Walden, chairman of Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment, took oversight of Hulu original scripted series. Additionally, FX chairman John Landgraf oversees the FX on Hulu portion of the streamer. Both Walden and Landgraf report to Peter Rice, chairman of Walt Disney Television and co-chair of Disney Media Networks.
Hulu’s integration into DTCI will not affect original scripted programming, which will stay within Rice’s group. Hulu is still expected to hire a business leader to oversee the streamer’s operations within the DTCI system.
Freer’s departure eliminates another inherited CEO position within the Disney corporate structure where the only executive with a CEO title is Bob Iger. He will remain in his role at Hulu for the next several weeks to help with the integration.
“I want to thank Randy for his leadership the last two years as CEO and for his collaboration the past several months to ensure an exceptionally bright future for Hulu,” said Mayer on Friday. “With the successful launch of Disney+, we are now focused on the benefits of scale within and across our portfolio of DTC businesses. Further integrating the immensely talented Hulu team into our organization will allow us to more effectively and efficiently deploy resources, rapidly grow our presence outside the U.S. and continue to relentlessly innovate. There is a tremendous amount of opportunity ahead, and I am confident in our ability to accelerate our positive momentum and better serve consumers.”
Freer was named CEO of Hulu in October 2017, replacing Mike Hopkins. He came from the Fox Networks Group, where he had been president and COO since 2013, and was Hulu board member before being named chief executive.
“I am grateful for my time at Hulu, and the opportunity to work and learn with an incredibly talented and dedicated group of people,” Freer said. “I also want to thank Kevin and The Walt Disney Company, as well as NBCUniversal and Fox, for providing me the opportunity to lead Hulu during a time of tremendous growth and significant industry transformation. Hulu has established itself as a leading choice for consumers looking for the best TV service available today, and I am confident Hulu will thrive inside Disney under DTCI’s leadership and resources.”