Per a report from Bloomberg last night, Fox Networks president of distribution Mike Hopkins is close to being named CEO of Disney/21st Century Fox/Comcast joint venture Hulu. After founder Jason Kilar resigned in March (along with chief technology officer Tom Rich), svp of content and distribution Andy Forssell stepped into the gap and has run the company for the last six months. Forssell's appointment would seem to underline Hulu's focus on its greatest advantage: its content library and its relationships with premium video publishers.
Obviously, Hopkins' hire would make those relationships—at least the relationships on the 21st Century side—that much firmer. Since the inception of the digital video service, many have perceived its biggest problem to be infighting between its competing co-owners. On some level, no matter how well the business functions, fierce rivalry between 21st Century and Disney (and NBCUniversal, which owns a stake but does not make management decisions) will continue to be a factor in the service's perceived success. To be fair, 21st Century and Disney do have a long history as fairly successful frenemies: The companies have managed to divide up the spoils of the Marvel Universe across their film slates without any bloodshed, which is not insignificant given the amount of money films based on the X-Men and the Avengers have brought in.
Hulu has more content avenues than repurposed broadcast programming, of course. The company green-lit several scripted originals earlier this year—The Awesomes, The Wrong Mans, and Quick Draw, among others—and has seen great success with anime programming. Hulu also struck up a partnership with the Criterion Collection a few months ago.
But putting Hopkins in charge would be both a sea change in the way Hulu is perceived among its partners, with a career broadcast exec in charge of the venture as opposed to a tech guy like Forssell (Forssell's resume includes stints at Seibel and Oracle). The fact that Hopkins is even being considered says something positive about the ability of Disney and 21st Century to get along well enough to agree on one of their own execs.