Joe Earley Takes Over Disney’s Streaming Business in Executive Shakeup

The move comes less than one year before Disney must decide the future of Hulu.

Joe Earley stands in front of a green Hulu sign.
Joe Earley led Hulu for one year. Getty Images for Hulu

The Walt Disney (DIS) Company has promoted its Hulu head, Joe Early, to lead the company’s streaming business as president, Direct-to-Consumer, Disney Entertainment, the company said in a statement yesterday (April 5). Michael Paull, the company’s former streaming boss, will leave the company after six years.

“Joe (Earley) has proven himself to be an extraordinary asset and is uniquely positioned for this role as we guide Disney’s streaming strategy into the future,” Alan Bergman and Dana Walden, Disney Entertainment co-chairs, said in a statement.

Disney is nearing its deadline to decide on the future of Hulu, of which it owns 67 percent. Early next year, it must decide if it will buy out Comcast (CMCSA)’s remaining 33 percent share, sell its own portion or spin the streaming service off. The streaming environment is “very, very tricky right now,” CEO Bob Iger said at a Morgan Stanley conference last month. He wants to fully understand Hulu’s growth potential before deciding its future at Disney, especially because the streaming economy is so new, he said.

The shakeup also comes as Iger works to restructure the company. Disney will lay off 7,000 employees, shave $5.5 billion in operating costs and reorganize the business into three sectors, according to the company’s February earnings call. Its streaming business is a major focus area, since it hasn’t yet turned a profit for the company.

Who is Joe Earley, Disney’s new streaming boss?

Earley has worked in television for nearly 30 years. He spent two decades at Fox, as the president of marketing and communications and then as chief operating officer. He became president of the Jackal Group, a production company founded by Fox executive Gail Berman. While at the Jackal Group, he produced Tidying Up With Marie Kondo and The Addams Family animated filmEarley oversaw marketing for Disney+ leading up to its launch and became president of Hulu in January 2022.

In his new role, Earley will oversee Disney+ and Hulu. Under Disney’s new structure, he will not run the company’s third streaming platform, ESPN+. Earley will continue to work as president of Hulu until Disney finds a successor, the company said in the statement.

“Helping launch Disney+ was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and Hulu has been inspiring and rewarding,” he said in the statement. “I’m incredibly grateful to Dana (Walden) and Alan (Bergman) for their confidence and the opportunity to lead both of these incredible teams during this time of transformation across the streaming landscape.”

Joe Earley Takes Over Disney’s Streaming Business in Executive Shakeup