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Hulu CEO Kilar Leaving Company

Departure Could Trigger A Change Among Streaming Service's Owners 1/04/2013 11:25 AM Eastern
Hulu CEO Jason Kilar will soon depart the streaming company, he announced Jan 4 in a post on Hulu's blog.

"I've decided to depart Hulu in Q1," Kilar wrote in the post, which was also emailed to Hulu staff members. "I am currently working with the  board to ensure there is ample runway to manage this transition."

Richard Tom, senior vice president and chief technology officer, will also leave Hulu around the same time, Kilar said.

Kilar continued: "I've been so fortunate to play a role in this amazing, ongoing journey. My decision to depart has been one of the toughest I've ever made. Though the words will fall short of the intended mark, please know how much this team means to me and how very thankful I am to be able to innovate and build alongside you each day."   

Under Kilar, revenues at Hulu, which was on the auction block in 2011 and attracted interest from Dish Network, Amazon and Google, rose 65% to $695 million in 2012 and the Hulu Plus premium service has built its base to more than 3 million paying subscribers.
While Kilar didn't indicate the next stop in his professional career -- he is expected to be in demand across the digital media landscape -- at least one analyst believes his departure will trigger a change among Hulu owners, News Corp., The Walt Disney Co. and Comcast. (The other owners have already cashed out investor Providence Equity.)
Richard Greenfield, analyst at BTIG, notes that media company joint ventures always prove sub-optimal and that the consent decree permitting Comcast to acquire control of NBCU prevents it from being involved with managing Hulu.

"With Disney's focus on direct-to-consumer apps for its major brands (ESPN, Disney, ABC and ABC Family), it appears increasingly less interested in Hulu, while NBCUniversal would love a way to exit or eliminate onerous aspects of the Comcast acquisition's consent decree," Greenfield said. He predicts that "following its separation from News Corp., Fox Group [will seek] to acquire 100% of Hulu, with the deal incorporating 10-year plus programming agreements with both NBC and ABC. With full ownership of Hulu, Fox accelerates Hulu's push into original programming and explores adding cable network content to create a virtual MVPD service."