The string of executives leaving Disney-owned businesses continued with Hulu this week.
Walt Disney Co. on Friday said Hulu Chief Executive Randy Freer will leave the company as the Burbank entertainment giant looks to take greater control of the streaming service’s business operations.
Disney became majority owner of the Santa Monica-based Hulu in March when it bought 21st Century Fox’s 30% stake in the streamer, adding to its own equal stake. In May, Disney assumed operational control of Hulu through a deal with fellow shareholder Comcast Corp., which agreed to sell its stake by January 2024.
Freer was named CEO of Hulu in October 2017, replacing Mike Hopkins, who now leads Sony Pictures Television. Freer will remain in his post for the next several weeks to assist with the integration into Disney’s direct-to-consumer and international business, Disney said.
Remaining Hulu executives will now report to business leaders within Disney’s direct-to-consumer division. Disney’s streaming services, overseen by direct-to-consumer chairman Kevin Mayer, represent a key initiative for the company and its chief, Bob Iger. The media behemoth is investing heavily in efforts to compete with Netflix and others entering the online subscription video space.
But Hulu, known for original series such as the Emmy-winning “The Handmaid’s Tale,” is also a key part of Disney’s streaming strategy. While Disney+ is the home to more family friendly-content, Hulu is expected to carry edgier programming from Disney-owned properties including FX Networks.
“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.
Freer is the latest major executive to leave Disney less than a year after the firm bought 21st Century Fox assets for $71.3 billion.
On Thursday, Disney said Emma Watts, the longtime production head of the 20th Century Fox film studio, had resigned from her post. A replacement is expected to be named in the coming weeks.
20th Century Fox, known for movies including James Cameron’s “Avatar” and James Mangold’s Oscar contender “Ford v. Ferrari,” was recently rebranded as 20th Century Studios, dropping the Fox moniker that is closely associated with Rupert Murdoch.