Goodbye Hulu? Signs Point To Consolidation As Freer Steps Down
On Friday, The Verge reported on Randy Freer resigning as Hulo CEO; fallout from The Walt Disney Company’s decision to consolidate its businesses under its own executive corps.
Randy Freer Stepped Down
Part of the decision to roll Hulu’s business operations into Disney’s direct-to-consumer division is to help “rapidly grow our presence outside the US,” according to a company press release put out Friday.
Disney hasn’t shied away from its plans to roll out Hulu in various international territories, along with its other streaming service, Disney+. The integration means Hulu executives will now report to Disney execs. Everything Hulu — and streaming-at-large — will now operate under Kevin Mayer, who heads up the division for Disney that includes Disney+, ESPN+, and now Hulu.
“I want to thank Randy for his leadership the last two years as CEO and for his collaboration the past several months to ensure an exceptionally bright future for Hulu,” Mayer said in a statement. “With the successful launch of Disney+, we are now focused on the benefits of scale within and across our portfolio of DTC businesses.”
A Scripted Change For Disney/Hulu
This trend of executive musical chairs is not new in the wake of Disney’s purchase of the Fox properties and The Mouse’s full acquisition of Hulu. However, this particular change seemed scripted for some time.
Hulu’s senior vice president of scripted content, Craig Erwich, stopped reporting to Freer and started reporting to Disney Television Studios chairman Dana Walden. FX president John Landgraf was given a portion of Hulu’s original programming slate, reporting to Fox executives now within Disney. Many of Hulu’s Marvel shows were canceled as Marvel Studios took over Marvel Entertainment and its TV duties. Plus, Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed that Hulu would soon run on the BAMTech platform, the same behind-the-scenes streaming tech that powers Disney+ and of which Disney acquired a majority stake in 2017. In essence, Disney took over everything.
I am grateful for my time at Hulu, and the opportunity to work and learn with an incredibly talented and dedicated group of people. I also want to thank Kevin [Mayer] and The Walt Disney Company, as well as NBCUniversal and Fox, for providing me the opportunity to lead Hulu during a time of tremendous growth and significant industry transformation…”
We’ll certainly keep an eye on these developments, especially with the Disney Company earnings call coming on Tuesday, February 4.