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Hulu’s CEO is going to run Sony TV, and another Fox exec is going to run Hulu

  • The move comes less than two months after Hulu made a splash at the Emmys with "The Handmaid's Tale."
  • Hopkins is leaving to run Sony TV, which has been restructuring its leadership over the last year.
  • One of Hopkins' jobs has been to build up original programs to rival Netflix.
Mike Hopkins, CEO of Hulu.
Jeniece Pettitt | CNBC
Mike Hopkins, CEO of Hulu.

Hulu, the streaming video service owned by several big media companies, is replacing its CEO: Mike Hopkins, the former 21st Century Fox executive who has been running the company since 2013, is out. Randy Freer, another Fox executive who has been president and chief operating officer of that company's TV business, is in.

Hopkins is leaving to run Sony TV, which has been restructuring its leadership over the last year; he'll report to new Sony Pictures Entertainment boss Tony Vinciquerra, who worked with Hopkins at Fox.

The move comes less than two months after Hulu made a splash at the Emmys with "The Handmaid's Tale."

But it's unclear how Hulu's underlying business is performing: While the streaming service said it saw a bump in subscribers after winning multiple Emmy awards in September, it hasn't announced subscriber numbers for more than a year.

This year, Hulu also launched its own version of an "over the top" pay TV service, which offers live and recorded TV; that $40-a-month service, which launched in May, reportedly has 300,000 subscribers.

Hulu is jointly owned by Fox, Disney and Comcast, which have traditionally used the service as a place to show their reruns, though one of Hopkins' jobs has been to build up original programs to rival Netflix. Last year, Time Warner bought a 10 percent stake in Hulu, valuing it at $5.8 billion.

Hopkins took over Hulu four years ago, which is a significant number for a venture-backed company but shouldn't be relevant at Hulu, where the equity is divided up among its big media ownership. He followed Jason Kilar, who enjoyed great early success but frequently clashed with his network owners.

Under Hopkins, Hulu has been a more placid place. Beyond its breakthrough at the Emmys, the most newsworthy thing about the service has been the fact that it has been increasingly interested in buying up the rights to shows produced by its owners — which in earlier years might have been bought up by Netflix.

By Peter Kafka, Recode.net.

CNBC's parent NBCUniversal is an investor in Recode's parent Vox, and the companies have a content-sharing arrangement.

Disclosure: Comcast, which owns CNBC parent NBCUniversal, is a co-owner of Hulu.

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