10:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg, Natalie Jarvey
Mike Hopkins Exits Hulu, Will Fill Steve Mosko Void at Sony Pictures TV
There's a major change at Hulu.
CEO Mike Hopkins is exiting the streaming platform and moving to Sony Pictures Television, where he will fill the role vacated by Steve Mosko. Hopkins will serve as chairman of the independent studio and start work in late November. He will report to Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman and CEO Tony Vinciquerra. Randy Freer, who currently serves on the Hulu board and has been president and COO of the Fox Networks Group since 2013, will take over as CEO at Hulu. He will be based in Hulu's Los Angeles headquarters and begin his new role on Monday.
“I’ve known Mike for years and can think of no better person to lead our television businesses during a time of such extraordinary evolution and opportunity,” Vinciquerra said Tuesday in a statement. “Mike is a proven and innovative leader who has played a key role in redefining today’s television landscape, both for consumers and for how content producers reach them. We are thrilled to have him at SPE to work alongside our deep bench of talent and lead our studio to even greater heights.”
With Hopkins' arrival at Sony TV, the studio will realign its reporting structure. The heads of SPT's domestic and international television production, distribution, advertiser sales and research, marketing and Sony Pictures Worldwide Networks will now report to Hopkins.
Hulu tapped Hopkins as CEO in 2013 following the departure of founding CEO Jason Kilar. At the time, Hulu’s owners — NBCUniversal, Disney and 21st Century Fox — had agreed not to sell it and instead cut a $750 million check to reinvest in the business. Hopkins, who had been a Hulu board member since 2011 through his role at Fox, was seen as an experienced operational executive who would be able to navigate Hulu’s complex corporate structure, which was much needed following Kilar’s history of disagreements with his traditional media bosses.
"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,” Hopkins said in a statement from Hulu.
“Tony has long been a colleague and mentor of mine, and I’m really excited to join him and the rest of the talented team at SPE,” Hopkins said in a statement from Sony. “There is a tremendous opportunity to build on SPT’s momentum globally, and I look forward to working with the team to realize that potential. I want to thank Tony and Kaz for this incredible opportunity.”
Mosko abruptly exited Sony TV in June 2016 after a 24-year run. At the time, sources told The Hollywood Reporter that infighting with SPE CEO Michael Lynton led to his eventual departure. In January, Lynton exited the studio and was replaced by Vinciquerra. Following the shake-up, SPT co-presidents Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht were expected to be promoted to replace Mosko. When that didn't happen, the duo exited the studio to lead Apple's push into scripted originals. Jeff Frost was promoted in July to the new role of president of Sony Pictures Television Studios, the production side of Sony Pictures Entertainment's TV business. He reports to Vinciquerra. At the same time, Jason Clodfelter and Chris Parnell were upped to co-presidents of Sony Pictures Television Studios. They report to Frost.
In an era of vertical integration where broadcast networks largely buy from their sibling studios in a push for greater ownership control and profitability, Sony TV has had its work cut out for it and has had to largely focus on co-productions in order to get a show on the air. The studio recently celebrated the 100th episode of ABC's The Goldbergs after the family comedy was renewed for two additional seasons with a reduced license fee, sources say. The studio remains a powerful player, meanwhile, on the cable and streaming side with series including Netflix's The Crown, AMC's Better Call Saul and YouTube's upcoming Karate Kid sequel, Cobra Kai.
Freer takes over as CEO after former AMC exec Joel Stillerman joined Hulu in May as chief content officer. The streamer has been ramping up its original programming with several high-profile projects including The First, a space drama starring Sean Penn from House of Cards creator Beau Willimon, and Castle Rock, the J.J. Abrams-produced Stephen King anthology.