"New Girl"

"New Girl" is one of the many programs featured on Hulu. (Patrick McElhenney / FOX)

Veteran Fox television executive Mike Hopkins has been named the chief executive of Hulu, the online video site.

Hopkins has served as president of distribution for Fox Networks since 2008. His appointment suggests that the companies that control Hulu may be interested in turning the popular service into a feature offered through cable and satellite distributors.

Such a move would expand Hulu's reach to consumers.  It also would help the three media company owners of Hulu -- Walt Disney Co., 21st Century Fox and Comcast Corp.'s NBCUniversal -- preserve their lucrative business partnerships with pay TV distributors.

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"Mike was simply the best candidate for the job," Anne Sweeney, co-chairman of Disney Media Networks, said in a statement. "He has a strong understanding of programming, digital distribution and consumer behavior and a great vision for Hulu's next chapter."

Hopkins succeeds Andy Forssell, who has served as Hulu's acting chief executive since March 2013. Forssell had led the company since the departure of Jason Kilar. Kilar was a fierce advocate of Hulu's playing a role in reinventing television, and that vision for the service often put him in conflict with its owners.

In assuming the helm of Hulu, Hopkins brings more than two decades of experience in the traditional television world and in negotiating distribution agreements. As head of distribution for Fox, he oversaw distribution strategy, sales and marketing for Fox's 45 broadcast and cable channels in the United States.  He also was responsible for on-demand and digital offerings.

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"With Mike's appointment, and its owners fully aligned and committed to seizing the incredible opportunities that lie ahead, we look forward to a very bright future for Hulu."

Hulu declined a request for an interview with Hopkins.

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