Hulu shakes up management; programming chief is out after just a year on the job

Hulu Chief Content Officer Joel Stillerman gives an upfront presentation to advertisers in New York in May.
Hulu Chief Content Officer Joel Stillerman gives an upfront presentation to advertisers in New York in May.
(Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images for Hulu)

Hulu Chief Content Officer Joel Stillerman is leaving the company a year after he joined it, part of a broader reorganization at the streaming service owned by four of the world’s largest media giants.

Stillerman is one of three departing senior executives, Hulu said Friday. Tim Connolly, who negotiated distribution deals, and Ben Smith, an architect of Hulu’s live TV service, are stepping down. The company also hired a couple of new executives as part of the shake-up.

Chief Executive Randy Freer, a veteran of 21st Century Fox Inc., is revamping the company that he took over last October. All three of the departing managers predate Freer’s arrival, and Stillerman held a role that no longer will exist after the overhaul.


“Ben, Tim and Joel have all played a significant role in getting Hulu to the strong position it is in today,” Freer said in a statement. “They will forever be a part of Hulu’s success story, and we wish them the very best in their next endeavors.”

Meanwhile, Hulu hired former TiVo Corp. executive Dan Phillips as its chief technology officer and Jaya Kolhatkar as chief data officer. Chief Marketing Officer Kelly Campbell will assume additional responsibilities as well.

Founded by NBC and Fox as an outpost for reruns of last night’s TV, Hulu has shuffled between a number of different strategies in recent years. The company operates an on-demand service that blends original series and licensed shows — much like Netflix — and also has a live TV offering that mimics a cable or satellite package.

Hulu surpassed 20 million subscribers this year thanks to its first original hit show, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” an adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel set in a dystopian future. The series earned the Emmy Award for best drama, the TV industry’s highest honor.

Stillerman joined Hulu shortly after the show’s debut to oversee programming across all the businesses, commissioning original series, licensing reruns and adding cable networks for the live service. A veteran media executive and producer, Stillerman joined Hulu from AMC Networks Inc., where he oversaw the development and production of “The Walking Dead” and “Better Call Saul.”

Hulu separated its original series into a division reporting to Freer, and it now will conduct a search for a new executive to handle all other content deals.


Freer is reorganizing Hulu at a time of great uncertainty. One of its owners, Walt Disney Co., is acquiring assets from co-owner Fox, including a stake in Hulu. A third co-owner, Comcast Corp., is preparing a competing bid for the Fox assets. Comcast has been prohibited from exercising any control over Hulu under the terms of its deal for NBCUniversal, but it will gain three board seats later this year.

Shaw writes for Bloomberg.