Hulu Moves on ‘Strategic’ Reorg

Hulu has initiated a “strategic reorganization” that, it said, aims to help the OTT video service provider scale its sub base, add more content and boost its premium ad offerings.

The reorg will also shake up a portion of Hulu's leadership ranks, as the company is adding two key execs and seeing the departure of three others.  

The reorg comes about eight months after Randy Freer, the former COO of Fox Networks Group, was named CEO of Hulu, succeeding Mike Hopkins, who left to become chairman of Sony Pictures Television.

Hulu said the new structure will be aligned around three areas – technology and products; content and advertising; and “Subscriber Journey,” a component that includes subscriber acquisition, engagement and retention.

Tied in, Hulu has hired a new chief technology officer, former TiVo COO Dan Phillips; and has appointed its first chief data officer, Jaya Kolhatkar, an exec late of Walmart.

Dan Phillips

Dan Phillips

Hulu said Phillips will oversee a newly unified Technology & Product organization that spans engineering, data center ops, network and broadcast operations center, IT, program management, user experience and product development. Phillips, who starts June 4 and will be based in Santa Monica, is also late of Uniscape and Crossworlds Software and co-founded enterprise software company Metasystems. 

Kokhatkar will start July 2 and be based at Hulu’s Santa Monica headquarters and report to  Freer. She formerly was SVP of global data and analytics platform at Walmart, and was co-founder and chief analytics officer of Inkiru, and previously was with PayPal, eBay and Amazon. 

Jaya Kolhatkar

Jaya Kolhatkar

Some key execs will also be departing Hulu, which recently confirmed that it has surpassed 800,000 live TV subs and a total sub base (including SVOD customers) that exceeds 20 million

RELATED: Hulu Surpasses 800K Live TV Subscribers

Ben Smith, SVP of experience, will be retiring in July, a move that comes as chief marketing officer Kelly Campbell expands the company’s marketing organization to include the Subscriber Journey element for Hulu’s SVOD and live TV offerings.  

Campbell's organization will also oversee Hulu’s subscriber partnership, including its current deals with Spotify and Sprint. 

RELATED: Hulu Brings New UI to More Devices, Sparks New Spotify Bundle

With respect the content-facing parts of the reorg, Hulu is combining its live TV and SVOD content licensing, acquisition and business functions into a single group called Content Partnerships, noting that the “lines between live and on-demand viewing” have become “increasingly blurred for consumers.”

Hulu’s original programming and its relationships with creators and studios will still be managed the company’s originals team, but is not operating as a dedicated business function led by SVP of content Craig Erwich, who reports to Freer.

Hulu noted that its content teams will now be comprised of two groups focused around acquiring on-demand and live content partners, and the creative community for Hulu originals. The content group will also explore more premium add-ons and “innovative new formats,” Hulu said.   

Amid those changes and updated structure, Hulu said SVP of partnerships and distribution Tim Connolly and chief content officer Joel Stillerman have decided to leave the company. Hulu said it is conducting a search for a head of the new Content Partnerships group and is eliminating the chief content officer role.

Hulu’s Advertising Sales group will continue reporting to Peter Naylor, SVP of Ad Sales, as it moves ahead on its Upfront and looks toward new ad products and starts to sell dynamically inserted ads in Hulu’s live TV service. 

“As one of today’s top direct-to-consumer entertainment brands, led by technology, innovation and data, Hulu has an enormous opportunity to lead the media and advertising industries into the future,” Freer said in a statement. “By adding new expertise and capabilities to our executive ranks and creating greater alignment around our customers, we are positioning Hulu to grow more rapidly, innovate more quickly and connect consumers even more deeply with the content they love.”

He added: “Ben, Tim and Joel have all played a significant role in getting Hulu to the strong position it is in today. They will forever be a part of Hulu’s success story, and we wish them the very best in their next endeavors."