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Hulu CEO named SPT chairman

Elisabeth Moss stars in Hulu drama The Handmaid’s Tale

The CEO of US streamer Hulu has stepped down from his position to become chairman of Sony Pictures Television (SPT), with a Fox exec taking his place.

Mike Hopkins, who has been in charge of Hulu since 2013, will oversee SPT’s global operations including domestic and international production and distribution, and its media networks.

Randy Freer, president and chief operating officer of Fox Networks Group (FNG), will be replacing Hopkins as CEO at Hulu.

Hopkins’ move to SPT will see the heads of its domestic and international television production, distribution, advertiser sales, research and marketing divisions reporting directly to him as well as Sony Pictures Worldwide Networks.

At Hulu, Hopkins helped the streamer grow its audience to over 47 million total unique users and triple its market valuation. He also built Hulu’s original programming slate, culminating in the company becoming the first SVoD service to win the Primetime Emmy for drama in September for its adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale.

In May, Hopkins announced Hulu would be doubling its investment in originals and exclusively licensed content from around US$2bn in 2016, and at the same time greenlit a second season of The Handmaid’s Tale.

Mike Hopkins

Prior to joining Hulu, Hopkins served as president of distribution for FNG, overseeing the distribution strategy, sales and marketing for the company’s 45 linear and non-linear US channels, as well as on-demand and digital extensions.

Freer, who takes over from Hopkins at the end of October, has been responsible for revenue, distribution, operations, business development and strategy for all aspects of the Fox Television Group – including FX, Fox Sports and National Geographic Partners. Before his current Fox role, Freer was co-president and COO of Fox Sports Media Group. His replacement at FNG is not yet known.

It continues a year of executive shuffling at Sony with Tony Vinciquerra appointed as chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment in May following Michael Lynton’s departure.

Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, former presidents of SPT, subsequently left during the summer and have since resurfaced at Apple.

Three execs were promoted to new jobs in the wake of that reshuffle, while Wayne Garvie was upped to president of international production at SPT more recently.

Freer said Hulu “is at the centre of transformation in entertainment” and added its staff “have positioned [the company] to be a leader in defining the future of content creation, distribution and monetisation – all while putting the viewer first.”

Hopkins added: “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.”

Vinciquerra said Hopkins’ leadership has played a “key role in redefining today’s television landscape” for consumers and how content producers reach them.

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