Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins Leaves for Sony TV and Will Be Replaced by Fox COO Randy Freer

It's a surprise ending to the streaming service's biggest year yet

Mike Hopkins will start at Sony next month, while Randy Freer takes over at Hulu on Monday. Getty Images
Headshot of Jason Lynch

In an unexpected end to Hulu’s biggest year to date, the streaming service is losing its CEO. Mike Hopkins, who has led the company since 2013, is leaving Hulu and joining Sony as chairman of Sony Pictures Television. Replacing Hopkins as Hulu CEO is Randy Freer, who had been Fox Networks Group president and COO since 2013.

Freer, who serves on the Hulu Board, will begin his new role on Monday.

Hopkins will start at Sony late next month and will oversee all global TV production, distribution and marketing for the studio. The heads of Sony Pictures Television’s domestic and international TV divisions as well as Sony Pictures Worldwide Networks will report to him. That role had been vacant since Steve Mosko left in June 2016.

“Leading Hulu for the past four years has been the single most meaningful experience of my career,” Hopkins said in a statement. “It has been an enormous privilege to work with this vibrant, creative and fearless team to build Hulu into the success it is today.”

Hopkins helped create Hulu’s robust slate of originals, including The Handmaid’s Tale, which won the Emmy for outstanding drama last month and led the company’s expansion into live TV this year. Prior to his time at Hulu, he was president of distribution for Fox Networks.

Sony Pictures Television currently produces shows like Better Call Saul, The Goldbergs, Shark Tank and freshman hit The Good Doctor as well as syndicated game shows Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. But as networks increasingly attempt to own their content, independent studios like Sony have had a more difficult time in recent years finding homes for their shows or keeping them on the air without agreeing to co-productions or other cuts in license fees.

“I’ve known Mike for years and can think of no better person to lead our television businesses during a time of such extraordinary evolution and opportunity,” said Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman and CEO Tony Vinciquerra in a statement. “Mike is a proven and innovative leader who has played a key role in redefining today’s television landscape, both for consumers and for how content producers reach them.”

In a second statement from Sony, Hopkins added: “Tony has long been a colleague and mentor of mine, and I’m really excited to join him and the rest of the talented team at SPE. There is a tremendous opportunity to build on SPT’s momentum globally and I look forward to working with the team to realize that potential.”

Freer, who oversaw revenue, distribution, operations, business development and strategy for Fox Television Group, FX, Fox Sports and National Geographic Partners, and also headed up rights acquisitions and team and league relationships for FOX Sports, takes Hopkins’ place at Hulu.

“Hulu is at the center of transformation in entertainment,” Freer said in a statement. “Hulu’s management team and employees have positioned Hulu to be a leader in defining the future of content creation, distribution and monetization—all while putting the viewer first.”

Hulu’s parent organizations include Fox, Disney-ABC, and Comcast-NBC. Last year Time Warner acquired a 10 percent stake in the streaming service.

With Hopkins’ exit, Hulu becomes the second of the three major streaming services to lose its chief in the past week. Last Tuesday, Roy Price stepped down as head of Amazon Studios, which had suspended him in the wake of sexual harassment allegations.

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.