EVP and chief content officer for Discovery LatAm and the US Hispanic market Carolina Lightcap has spent the last two years working with her team of development, production and acquisitions execs to strengthen the pay-TV preschool channel Discovery Kids. The team has been building up a more strategic slate of original animated and live-action projects that can travel globally, all in the name of launching the new Discovery Kids Media (DKM). The new Miami-based unit is going to develop, co-produce, commission and distribute animated and live-action kids content for linear and digital platforms worldwide.
Lightcap is at the helm of it all, adding general manager of DKM to her current responsibilities. She also brought in some reinforcements. Based out of London, former Zodiak Kids exec Danielle Davies joins as VP of kids content partnerships and revenue. As part of Discovery International’s program sales and consumer products team, Davies will lead all commercialization efforts for DKM content.
“In planning the future, part of what [Davies] is working on is digital distribution,” says Lightcap. “We had a lot of conversations at Kidscreen Summit and are very open to different windows and arrangements. It’s very much an active exploration.”
Prior to joining Discovery in 2012, Lightcap served 11 years at Disney Channels Worldwide for Latin America.
The first DKM series up for distribution are Emmy-nominated Mini Beat Power Rockers, made in partnership with Argentinian animation studio Mundoloco; live-action Big Top Academy produced by Montreal-based Apartment 11 in association with Discovery Kids and Canadian pubcaster TVOKids and in collaboration with Cirque du Soleil Images (the multimedia production division of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment); and Zu & Her Zoo from Brazilian co-producer Boutique Filmes.
“Mini Beat Power Rockers is currently the number-one show on our channel,” says Lightcap. “We’ve kept the global rights, produced 52 five-minute episodes and commissioned another 104 that are delivering over the next few months.”
To help the content sell worldwide, the music-themed animated series, along with Big Top Academy, were produced in English first and are also available in Spanish and Portuguese.
“We always hire English-speaking showrunners because we know the globalization of the content is important,” says Lightcap. “However, in determining the right language and approach, we are not fixated on doing things a certain way. We always look at the authenticity of the story. For example, we are looking to do a project in Mexico and it would be very artificial to make it in English.”
Lightcap notes that some Spanish-language live-action content travels well in Europe, so hyper-localized LatAm content isn’t out of the question, as the new unit continues to search for unique voices in the market.
DKM currently has 15 projects in development across animation and live-action and is actively looking for partnerships.
Moving forward, DKM will also manage Discovery’s joint-venture agreements for kids productions, including redknot—a newly branded JV originally launched in 2017 by Corus Entertainment-owned Nelvana (Babar, Mysticons) and Discovery Communications to create a new pipeline of children’s content for international delivery. Operating independently of Corus, Discovery and Nelvana’s other services, the Toronto, Canada-based venture also acquires IP rights to brands, characters and concepts from Nelvana and Discovery for future development and production.
redknot’s first two greenlights heading into production are 52 x 11-minute animated preschool series Dog & Pony Show and Agent Binky: Pets of the Universe. Dog & Pony Show is a redknot production created by Little Airplane Productions founder and CEO Josh Selig and produced by former Spin Master senior director of production Patricia Burns, the joint venture’s newly-hired executive manager and supervising producer. Agent Binky is based on a series of Kids Can Press graphic novels written and illustrated by Ashley Spires. Both series will air on Discovery Kids Latin America and Treehouse Canada.
“redknot has been a very active partnership,” says Lightcap, who sits on the joint venture’s board alongside Nelvana president Scott Dyer. “Getting our first shows produced and ready for market has actually gone quite quickly.”
While DKM gets acquainted with new talent, Lightcap stresses the importance of her existing Discovery team including senior director of kids productions, Adriano Schmid; head of acquisitions, Flavio Medeiros; and VP of development and production, Michela Giorelli, whose work covers all genres, including some kids projects like Big Top Academy.
When asked about challenges, Lightcap says she and her team are more than happy to be busy with the new unit and global strategy.
“We’re finding a lot of willingness to work with studios from all over the world,” she says. “Right now, it’s all about bandwidth and figuring out what to focus on because we have a lot of projects cooking.”