Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) is making changes at Hulu to “more closely integrate Hulu” into its business operations, according to a press release from the company. Kevin Mayer, chairman of the Direct-to-Consumer & International organization at Disney, released a statement saying, “Further integrating the immensely talented Hulu team into our organization will allow us to more effectively and efficiently deploy resources, rapidly grow our presence outside the U.S. and continue to relentlessly innovate.”
Hulu originally started as a joint venture between Disney, NBCUniversal, News Corporation, and others. Disney gradually increased its ownership stake in the service over the years and made an agreement with Comcast (which owns NBCUniversal) last May to buy the 33 percent stake Disney didn’t yet own over the next five years. The agreement gave Disney operational control of the streaming service.
Randy Freer will step down as CEO of Hulu. Freer accepted the position in October 2017, after coming from the Fox Networks Group, where he had been president and COO since 2013. He was Hulu board member before being named chief executive. Within the Disney corporate structure, the only executive with a CEO title is Bob Iger.
Freer said in a statement, “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 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.” Freer will remain in his role at Hulu for the next several weeks to help with the integration.
Hulu’s executives will now report to Disney’s direct-to-consumer and international (DTCI) executives. The top executives across distribution, sales, and marketing will report directly to the corresponding DTCI business leads. Now all of the streaming platforms owned and operated Disney will be under the same centralized leadership. Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu have already been bundled together in offerings to consumers since the November launch of Disney+.