HRTS Member Profile: Carolina Lightcap

Carolina LightcapCarolina Lightcap is President, Disney Channels Worldwide. Carolina started out in Buenos Aires and her career has since taken her to many different cities for work in many different facets of the industry. I recently had a chance to interview Carolina to discuss focus groups, branding, and multiplatform demographics.

Q: Can you tell us about your background? What made you want to work in entertainment?
-I started working in media in 1986 for Reuters Ltd. in Buenos Aires and New York, home of my alma mater, Columbia University. In 1993, I took my first television job at Fox in Los Angeles and was part of the small team that launched the Fox Latin American Channel. I’ve also worked for Sky Latin America Partners, based in Miami, and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment prior to joining Disney a decade ago. While I’ve spent the past eight years in my native Buenos Aires, my return to Los Angeles is like a second homecoming since I lived here for seven of the 14 years I’ve spent in the U.S. I was originally attracted to entertainment because I wanted to be in a dynamic, innovative and growing business filled with wonderfully creative people; all these years later, I come to work knowing I got what I wanted and more!

Q: What makes Hannah Montana or High School Musical so hugely popular with kids?
-it can all be summed up with two words:  “relevance” and “aspirational”. Our utmost focus is on our programming content; it is designed to capture kids’ imagination with great stories, characters and music that is relevant to their lives. So, our success begins with the strong connection we have with our viewers. By listening to them every day in focus groups and via other research, we understand what kids, tweens and families expect from us and can reflect that in our storytelling whether it’s ‘Hannah Montana’ and ‘High School Musical’ or our newest hits including ‘Phineas and Ferb’ and ‘Camp Rock.’ The premise of ‘Hannah Montana’ was particularly aspirational and emphasized Disney Channel’s brand promises: believe in yourself, follow your dreams and celebrate your family.

Q: How do you simultaneously grow your brand domestically and internationally?
-Disney Channel is global, and international growth is one of the three strategic priorities for the entire Disney Company – along with creativity and innovative technology. Disney Channels around the world serve as the company’s daily touchstone with consumers – bringing the Disney brand into hundreds of millions of homes through content and characters that are relevant to their lives and cultures. We’re not just exporting content from the U.S. into other markets, we’re actively developing local talent and content around the world. As such, we are focused on international growth with our three brands — Disney Channel, Playhouse Disney and Disney XD – each driven by high quality creative content and effective use of the technology that our viewers use most.  It’s been a winning strategy, and we’re going to continue to focus on bringing the best in kid-friendly entertainment to families everywhere.

Q: Are today’s kids programming their own viewing schedules? If so, then will Thursday at 9PM ever mean anything to them?
-some years ago, we ramped up our strategy in recognition that we serve a ‘connection generation’ of kids and tweens who expect the ability to multi-task when they use media. Our core viewer gets entertainment and information from, and can buy content on, multiple devices in addition to “appointment viewing” on linear TV that continues to be very strong. They are also more empowered to create their own content online, influencing others as they do. While we are committed to offering programming to viewers no matter when, where or how they want it, first and foremost is our unwavering mission to deliver high quality content, great stories and characters that are relevant to kids and families. That’s the cornerstone of our success — characters, stories and music that make an emotional connection with our audience.

Q: What sorts of plans do you have for the online and mobile spaces?
-we program everything from a multi-platform point-of-view. Kids watch content online and via mobile devices, often as they ride in carpools and on school buses. We work closely with vendors to develop world-class content for our websites. We also look at the best games to license to ensure our sites have the most compelling and cutting edge content and games that authentically extend our network brands, shows and franchises in the digital space.

Q: Anything you would like to add?
-I am results-oriented so I am thrilled to be leading the fantastic Disney Channel team which in the U.S. has a stellar track record (#1 in primetime among Kids 6-11 for seven consecutive years and #1 among Tweens 9-14 for nine consecutive years and over the past four years, also bested all cable channels, including USA, TNT and TBS, to land the #1 or #2 ranking in primetime Total Viewers). In addition to this flagship channel, our year-old basic cable channel Disney XD has quickly made its mark and, year to year, its ratings increased by 41% among Kids 6-14, by 59% among Tweens 9-14, by 33% among Boys 6-11 and by 62% among Boys 9-14 in Total Day measurements. I also have the privilege of overseeing our Radio Disney team. They’ve delivered exciting results in terms of creative content, ratings and advertising. They work with national and local clients seeking to reach the 22 million weekly listeners who listen together to the only broadcast radio destination exclusively serving kids, tweens and families.