Los Angeles Business Journal

Who Is Hulu's New CEO?

By Natalie Jarvey Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Video streaming service Hulu last week ended months of speculation with the announcement that Mike Hopkins has been named chief executive, replacing interim CEO Andy Forssell.

Hopkins was one of a handful of technology and media executives who was rumored to have expressed interest in the position, but his name might not be familiar to many outside the entertainment industry.

So who is Hopkins and what does he bring to Hulu?

Hopkins had been president of distribution at Fox Networks since 2008, during which time his team helped create Fox's streaming video service Fox Now and sports streaming site BTN2GO.

As head of distribution, he was responsible for negotiating deals with satellite and cable providers for Fox's slate of 45 channels. He also worked to distribute the network's programming on video-on-demand, streaming and mobile platforms.

Under his leadership, Fox began providing immediate online access to its shows to viewers with cable subscriptions. Shows typically only became available to non-subscribers a week after their air date.

Hopkins will now bring his negotiating skills to the opposite site of the bargaining table, this time working for Hulu to help it strike deals with the content providers.

It's worth noting that Hulu – which is owned by NBCUniversal, Walt Disney Co. and 21st Century Fox – opted to appoint a chief executive that was already part of the family. Several news outlets reported that Intel executive Erik Huggers was also interested in the job.

Hopkins not only worked within the 21st Century Fox system but had served on the Hulu board since 2011.

In an email to staff members that was later posted to the Hulu blog, Hopkins praised the technology platform that the company has built.

"You have built a product and brand that has earned its place among the top tier of consumer technology companies," he wrote. "You have built a product and service that your customers (users, content owners, and advertisers) simply love."

Hopkins enters the company after a year of uncertainty. Chief Executive Jason Kilar resigned in March and then Hulu's owners announced that they would seek a buyer for the streaming service. The deal was called off in July when the studios invested $750 million into the company.

Hopkins alluded to the challenges in his email to staff but also indicated that the company's future will be more stable.

"With the foundation you have built, the significant capital infusion of three quarters of a billion dollars, and our partners aligned and fully supportive of what we need to get it done, the sky is the limit for Hulu," he wrote. "I am looking forward to working with you all."