Sony Pictures Television Taps Hulu’s Hopkins as Chairman

Sony Pictures Entertainment said it has tapped Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins as chairman of Sony Pictures Television, while Fox Networks Group chief operating officer Randy Freer will move to the streaming service as CEO.

The moves come as a surprise. Hopkins has been with Hulu since 2013 and has steered the company to acclaim for its original programming – its Handmaid’s Tale won the 2017 Emmy Award for Best Drama – and comes just months after the service embarked on an aggressive campaign to add live TV to its mix. 

The move will reunite Hopkins with his former boss at Fox Networks Group Tony Vinciquerra, who now heads Sony Pictures Entertainment as chairman and CEO.

“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,” Vinciquerra said 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.  We are thrilled to have him at SPE to work alongside our deep bench of talent and lead our studio to even greater heights.”

Hopkins fills the spot left vacant when SPT chief Steve Mosko stepped down last year. Hopkins will oversee all television production, distribution and marketing operations globally for the studio, as well as SPE’s media networks business.  He will officially start in late November and report to Vinciquerra.

 “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,” Hopkins said in a statement.  “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.  I want to thank Tony and Kaz for this incredible opportunity.”

Sony Pictures Television has produced top series like Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, The Blacklist, The Goldbergs, Shark Tank, Preacher, Outlander, as well as shows for digital platforms like as One Day at a Time for Netflix.  SPT also produces first-run syndicated programs such as Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, and network daytime serials The Young and the Restless and Days of Our Lives.

Freer, who has been president and COO at Fox Networks since 2013, will be based in Lons Angeles. His new job is effective Monday.

“We want to thank Mike [Hopkins] for his leadership in steering Hulu to its current era of growth and success,” Hulu’s board of directors said in a statement. “Randy has a unique knowledge of Hulu and expertise building consensus among its owners, and an excellent track record leading a complex organization at the nexus of the television business. There’s no better candidate to lead Hulu as it embarks on its next chapter.”

At Fox Networks Group, Freer oversaw revenue, distribution, operations, business development and strategy for all aspects of the Fox Television Group, FX, FOX Sports and National Geographic Partners, and was responsible for rights acquisitions and team and league relationships on behalf of FOX Sports.

Prior to being named to his current position, Freer served as co-president and COO, Fox Sports Media Group, where he focused on growing and enhancing Fox Sports’ portfolio of league, conference, and team media rights.  In recent years, he oversaw the negotiations that led to long-term agreements with the National Football League, Major League Baseball, NASCAR, and the USGA, as well as with the Pac-12, Big 12, and Big East Conferences. Freer also played a significant role in Fox’s landmark acquisitions of the World Cup and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).  He also was at the forefront of the acquisition of true[X], an engagement and on-demand marketing company which serves as a key component of FNG’s non-linear advertising products and services.

“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. I’d like to thank Hulu’s Board for this exciting opportunity.”