Hulu has officially announced that its SVP of content Andy Forssell will become its acting CEO when founding CEO Jason Kilar leaves the company at the end of the month. Kilar made the announcement himself Thursday afternoon on Hulu’s blog, writing:
“You know Andy well; he’s been a critical senior executive and has been here from the start of this great adventure. Andy exemplifies the Hulu culture and has been central to Hulu’s journey, helping to grow this company from 2 content partners and no revenue to over 450 content partners and approximately $700 million revenue in 2012.”
It’s been an open secret that Forssell was on the shortlist to become Hulu CEO for some time. I first heard a rumor about this in early January, and Adweek wrote that he was a likely candidate later that month. However, there were also a number of other names floating around, including at least one executive from Hulu co-owner Disney.
Speaking of co-owners: The fact that Forssell only got the job as acting CEO has a lot to do with Disney and News Corp. disagreeing over Hulu’s future. News Corp. wants to steer Hulu towards a paid subscription future, whereas Disney prefers the free, ad-based part of Hulu’s business. Finding a permanent CEO for a company whose future is in flux is apparently not that easy, which Kilar indirectly acknowledged in his blog post:
Disney and News Corporation are currently finalizing their forward-looking plans with Hulu, and the senior team has been working closely with them in that process. Once the plans are finalized, a permanent decision will be made regarding the CEO position.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that both Disney and News Corp. are considering buying the other partner out to take over majority control of Hulu. Comcast, the third studio major owner, is barred from making any decisions on Hulu’s future due to the NBC-Comcast merger conditions.