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Hulu hires Fox TV exec Mike Hopkins as CEO

The Hulu board member is in and acting CEO Andy Forssell is out at the video-streaming company owned by three of the top TV networks.


As expected, the next-day-TV streaming site Hulu has named a Fox executive from its board to be its permanent chief executive.

Mike Hopkins has been the president of distribution for Fox Networks Group since 2008 and has been a Hulu director since 2011. He replaces Andy Forssell, a longtime Hulu exec who is leaving the company. Forssell served as acting CEO since March and has worked on Hulu's content and distribution side since 2007, the year the site was founded.

Hulu's new Chief Executive Mike Hopkins. Hulu

Hopkins' hire, following a $750 million infusion from Hulu's owners instead of a sale of the company, puts the site on its steadiest ground in recent memory.

Hulu, which has operated under a cloud of uncertainty for much of the last year during the attempted sale also experienced a stream of top executive departures before that. They included Jason Kilar, Hulu's previous permanent chief.

Fox Networks is part of 21st Century Fox, one of Hulu's owners alongside NBCUniversal -- part of Comcast -- and Walt Disney.

The owners ultimately decided to infuse ad-supported Hulu and subscription service Hulu Plus with $750 million, after they aborted the effort to sell the site -- again. The parent companies had attempted a sale in 2011 as well, only to keep Hulu in the fold.

Now with $750 million in the bank and clarity on who is in charge, Hulu has the opportunity to begin a new chapter, but it still faces the challenge of reaching a bigger audience -- its viewership is dwarfed by Netflix's -- and finding its fit in the world of television online and off, as it straddles both.

Hopkins provides few clues about how a new chapter would play out for the company in an internal note sent to Hulu's staff. However, he praised the staff for, among other things, holding it together during the unsettled times.

"The fact is, through all the recent uncertainty not only have you kept this business together, but you've continued to deliver on every key performance metric. In fact, you are delivering one of the strongest years Hulu has ever seen: We expect revenues to be close to a billion dollars this year, and Hulu Plus subscribers continue to climb," he wrote.

Reuters reported a week ago that Hopkins was in line for the job, citing people with knowledge of Hulu's plans.

Update, 1:30 p.m. PT: Adds comments from Hopkins' note to staff.