Hulu boss exits as streaming competition heats up

A smiling blond woman in a white shirt against a green background that says "Hulu."
Kelly Campbell attends the Hulu Upfront 2018 brunch in New York City.
(Bryan Bedder / Getty Images for Hulu)

Hulu President Kelly Campbell is leaving her role after just 19 months, the latest executive shakeup in the fiercely competitive streaming market.

The company confirmed Campbell’s departure but declined to comment on why she is leaving.

Although Hulu has grown on Campbell’s watch, the Walt Disney-owned streaming service has faced rising competition from Netflix and other services vying for consumers’ attention and money.


Campbell wrote in a post on LinkedIn that she was proud of what she and her team achieved together. She joined Hulu in 2017 after working for 12 years at Google in positions including senior director of growth marketing for Google Cloud.

“Four years ago I accepted my dream job when I joined Hulu,” Campbell wrote. “And it didn’t disappoint. I worked with the best of the best, in a values-driven culture full of the most talented people around.” She was appointed president in February 2020.

Rebecca Campbell, Walt Disney Co.’s chairman of international operations and direct-to-consumer, will temporarily oversee Kelly Campbell’s direct reports.

“Hulu remains an important part of our direct-to-consumer strategy, and I look forward to working closely with all of you until her replacement is named,” Rebecca Campbell wrote in a note to staff.

Although Disney+ gets the most attention, Hulu plays a key role in Walt Disney Co.’s streaming strategy. It is home to “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Little Fires Everywhere” and various FX shows that don’t fit neatly into Disney’s family-friendly club of marquee brands.

In the burgeoning business of streaming television shows, Hulu has long been viewed as the distant runner-up to Netflix.

Dec. 15, 2017

Hulu has grown significantly under Disney control’s. Hulu hit nearly 43 million subscribers in the most recent fiscal quarter, up 20% from 35.5 million a year ago. It was profitable during the quarter.

Hulu has about a 10% share of the streaming market, according to Nielsen analyst Brian Fuhrer. The pioneering streaming service, which launched in 2007, trails Netflix (which has 25%) and YouTube (20%) but draws more users than Amazon Prime Video (9%) and Disney+ (6%). The appeal of Hulu has long been easy access to current network shows.


At an investor conference last month, Disney Chief Executive Bob Chapek touted Hulu’s model, which allows advertising, and noted the subscription streaming space is “malleable.”

But analysts say Hulu’s growth is limited because it is only available domestically, where the market is getting more crowded. Hulu has its own original series, but its library also is filled with licensed programs that are subject to deal renewals.

“They’re not like Netflix or HBO when it comes to original production, and that’s going to be tough when these services keep pulling their stuff,” said Ross Benes, senior analyst at research firm eMarketer.

Meanwhile, services like Netflix are rapidly expanding their investment abroad.

“This is a surprise move,” Daniel Ives, an analyst with Wedbush Securities, said of Campbell’s departure. “Kelly was supposed to be an integral part of Hulu’s success.”

Netflix’s Global Head of TV, Bela Bajaria, discusses the company’s programming strategy and why foreign-language shows are taking off on the platform.

Sept. 20, 2021

Analysts at MoffettNathanson recently estimated the value of Hulu at roughly $57 billion..

Hulu’s business prospects have long been complicated by shared ownership. While Disney has held operational control of Hulu in recent years, rival Comcast Corp. still owns a 33% stake.

In 2019, the companies jointly announced that Disney would assume operational control and that Comcast would sell its position by January 2024. The companies set a minimum value of $27.5 billion.

Analysts have wondered whether Comcast will exit Hulu early, which would require Disney to come up with a big check.

Campbell is in negotiations for a role at NBCUniversal. Should the talks culminate in a deal, Campbell would join the Comcast-owned media giant to run its year-old streaming service, Peacock, reporting to NBCUniversal’s streaming chief, Matt Strauss, according to a person close to the talks not authorized to comment. An NBCUniversal spokeswoman declined to comment.

NBCUniversal executives who have worked with Campbell were impressed with her skills as an executive as well as her grasp of the streaming market.

The cable giant’s streaming service will be offered free to consumers with commercials. Peacock launches nationwide July 15. Comcast subscribers get a preview April 15.

April 14, 2020

There has been growing dissatisfaction among Hulu’s workforce since the Disney takeover of Fox’s stake in Hulu, which gave the Burbank entertainment giant operational control, said two people familiar with the streaming service who were not authorized to comment.

For years, Hulu’s pay and benefits were aligned with those offered by technology companies because the streamer competed for talent with companies such as Google and Facebook. Until the Disney takeover, Hulu employees got to participate in the bonus and incentive program. Disney changed the compensation structure so that many midlevel and junior executives saw their pay packages cut, sources said.

A Disney representative declined to comment.