The merger mania sweeping through corporate media means that the latest reshuffling may stay in place for only so long. If Disney prevails in its bid to acquire most of 21st Century Fox, it will become Hulu’s majority owner. On the other hand, if Comcast succeeds with its rogue bid for most of 21st Century Fox, it will assume 60 percent of the company. Whatever the outcome, Hulu is likely to have a majority owner for the first time — and, with it, a new content strategy.
For the time being, the position of chief content officer has been expunged.
As Hulu has introduced a live TV service and expanded its original programming and its library of content, which now includes vintage shows like “ER” and “30 Rock,” its number of subscribers has surpassed 20 million. And yet the losses are mounting: In 2017, the company lost nearly $1 billion, a figure that will climb to more than $1.5 billion this year, according to the firm BTIG.
Spending freely seems to be part of doing business in streaming, however: Netflix is expected to have a negative free cash flow of anywhere between $3 billion and $4 billion this year.
Hulu’s competitors are also ramping up their executive ranks. Amazon, a sleeping giant in the entertainment industry, is showing signs of getting its act together, having hired the executive Jennifer Salke from NBC this year in the first of several moves meant to assure Hollywood that it can, at last, become a real player.
And Netflix continues to gobble up talent, striking megadeals with the producers Ryan Murphy and Shonda Rhimes, not to mention the Hollywood newcomers Barack and Michelle Obama. The company has 119 million paying subscribers, including more than 55 million in the United States.
Hulu, which is available only domestically, has undergone shifts in its identity several times since it started in 2007. Until the success of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” it was seen primarily as a place where viewers could click their way to last night’s episode of a network television show.
In addition to the news about Mr. Stillerman, Hulu announced that the senior vice president of experience, Ben Smith, and the head of partnerships and distribution. Tim Connolly, were no longer with the company.