It's Official: Hulu Names Mike Hopkins CEO
UPDATED: He takes over for acting CEO Andy Forssell.
Hulu said Thursday that, effective immediately, Mike Hopkins is officially its new chief executive and that acting CEO Andy Forssell will be leaving the company.
A Hulu board member since 2011, Hopkins was most recently president of distribution for Fox Networks Group, a division of 21st Century Fox, which owns Hulu along with Disney and Comcast.
Hopkins beat out not only Forssell for the permanent CEO job but also former NBCUniversal executive Lauren Zalaznick, Intel executive Erik Huggers and ABC executive Albert Cheng, all of whom were reportedly on Hulu's shortlist.
Word leaked last week, though, that Hopkins had been offered the role.
Forssell had been acting CEO since March, when Jason Kilar exited the company with a $40 million payout.
"After an extensive search, Mike was simply the best candidate for the job," said Anne Sweeney, co-chairman of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney/ABC Television Group. "He has a strong understanding of programming, digital distribution and consumer behavior and a great vision for Hulu's next chapter."
Hopkins takes over Hulu at an interesting time in its six-year history, having recently ended unsuccessful negotiations with a slew of potential acquirers and also having twice scrapped plans for an initial public offering.
Once derided as ClownCo by skeptics who thought the company's business model of streaming shows for free over the Internet was a nonstarter, the company has proved resilient. In 2012 it posted $695 million in revenue, up 65 percent from a year earlier, with revenue coming from advertising and its Hulu Plus subscription service.
When Kilar announced in January he was leaving Hulu, he had a history of disagreements with the bosses at Disney and Fox whereby he argued for a larger budget to acquire more content while others wanted to rein in costs and pursue steady profits. A month after leaving Hulu, Kilar joined the board of directors at DreamWorks Animation.
At Fox, Hopkins oversaw distribution, sales and marketing for 45 U.S. channels, and he oversaw a team that developed digital products like BTN2Go, a digital-video college sports offering, and Fox Now, which supplies TV shows on demand over the Internet.
"The team at Hulu has created a beloved user experience that feeds the undeniable need for quality, convenience and ease of use," Hopkins said Thursday. "I am honored to have the opportunity to work with this dynamic, innovative team."
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