Fullscreen Bets on Former Hulu CEO in Push for Paid Video
Andy Forssell, who has been appointed COO, will help drive the company's ambitions to launch a premium video service on par with Vessel, YouTube Red and other major subscription offerings.
This story first appeared in the Dec. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
A year after selling a majority stake in Fullscreen to Otter Media — a joint venture of the Chernin Group and AT&T — CEO George Strompolos' long-term vision for his digital media business is beginning to take shape.
Strompolos revealed Nov. 30 that he had appointed former Hulu executive Andy Forssell as COO. (Former COO Ezra Cooperstein remains Fullscreen's president.) The move gives the architect of Hulu's original programming push jurisdiction over day-to-day operations at Fullscreen, which began as a multichannel network for YouTube stars but recently has expanded into production with original films including the coming-of-age story The Outfield and such upcoming serialized projects as a remake of Sid and Marty Krofft's Electra Woman and Dyna Girl.
Forssell's biggest priority might be helping Fullscreen turn into a consumer brand through its forthcoming subscription video service. A founding Hulu exec who was senior vp content and distribution for six years before becoming acting CEO for six months following the departure of Jason Kilar, Forssell saw the Hollywood studio-owned company grow from a 10-person outfit with many skeptics into a video business with 5 million subscribers by the time he left in 2013. Strompolos, who founded Fullscreen in 2011, notes that "Andy's deep experience in online video will help us scale operations and execute our bold vision."
Forssell's appointment comes less than a month after former Oxygen president Jason Klarman joined the company as its first chief marketing officer with a mandate to help Fullscreen evolve into a consumer-facing platform. Both hires service the company's ambitions to launch a premium video service — called, simply, Fullscreen — that will compete head-to-head with a growing number of subscription offerings including Kilar's Vessel and the recently launched YouTube Red.
Fullscreen's 2014 sale to Otter, which owns the subscription video sites Crunchyroll and Creativebug, foreshadowed its growth into a paid service. "It's a logical reaction to advertising-only-challenged business models," says Peter Csathy, CEO of consulting and investment firm Manatt Digital Media. "It also reflects Hulu-like premium-content aspirations that justify subscription-based pricing."