President and chief executive officer, Lifetime Entertainment Services
Education: Ohio State University, BA, 1965.
Family: Children: one.
Career: Proctor & Gamble, 1970–1983, marketing executive; DDB Needham, 1983–1986, senior vice president; Walt Disney Company, 1986–1993, held positions of vice president of worldwide marketing and senior vice president of marketing and television; NBC 4, 1994–1999, general manager; Lifetime Entertainment Services, 1999–, president and chief executive officer.
Awards: Named one of the Fifty Most Powerful Women in Business, 2001 and 2002, Fortune ; named one of the Top 25 Managers of the Year 2002, BusinessWeek ; named one of New York's Most Influential Women in Business, 1999, Crain's New York Business ; named one of America's One Hundred Most Important Women of the Twentieth Century, Ladies Home Journal .
Address: Lifetime Entertainment Services, 309 West 49th Street, New York, New York 10019; http://www.lifetimetv.com.
■ Under Carole Black's leadership, Lifetime Television established itself as one of the highest-rated cable television networks in the United States and the leader in women's television in programming. In 2001 Nielsen Media Research cited Lifetime Television as the number one basic-cable network in prime time. By doubling the corporation's marketing budget and making women's issues the focus of programming, Black successfully positioned the network for continued growth in the cable market, especially in that important demographic.
Carole Black displayed her strong leadership skills early in life. Indeed, as the president of her high school student body she was already a pioneer of sorts—that Cincinnati high school had never elected a female president until Black came along. After graduating from Ohio State University in 1965, Black began her career in her home town of Cincinnati as a marketing executive with Proctor & Gamble. She married and gave birth to a son. After divorcing her husband, she left Proctor & Gamble in 1983 for the advertising firm DDB Needham, where she developed a passion for working on marketing specifically targeted to women. Black worked on the Sears account, and one of her duties was to make Sears stores more engaging and appealing to women customers. In this she succeeded.
Accepting a position with the Walt Disney Company in 1986 meant leaving the cozy confines of her home and life in the Midwest, but the move to the West Coast proved to be a great success. In her seven years with Disney, Black was credited with drawing more working women, especially busy working mothers, to the home-video market. This was considered quite revolutionary at the time. Videos had not been widely promoted for their convenience, something that as a mother Black recognized and was able to emphasize. As vice president of marketing and television she was directly responsible for increased video sales to working mothers.
Black decided to move on, and perhaps it seemed odd at first that she would leave Disney to head the NBC affiliate in Los Angeles. Since she had very little television know-how, it was an opportunity for Black and something of a gamble for NBC. The station wanted to extend its share of female viewers, and it took particular note of Black's track record and abilities in that regard. Black succeeded in increasing the station's exposure among women viewers, and she was credited with making NBC 4 the number one news station in the area.
In 1999 Black became the first woman to head the Lifetime Television cable network. The network felt that her business acumen could easily provide a boost to Lifetime's viewership, but it is not clear that at the time they fully appreciated her potential for the network. Carole Black was not timid about implementing immediate and significant changes in the company. She swiftly replaced four people in top management positions. She realized that Lifetime could save money by producing much of its daytime programming in house, and she provided ways for that to happen quickly and efficiently. She ensured that all programming was for and about women, and in response large numbers of women began to take notice. Lifetime became number one in that important demographic and remained there through Black's tenure.
Black expanded the distribution of Lifetime's Movie Network and launched Lifetime Real Women, the company's third cable network. Moreover, Lifetimetv.com consistently rated high and became the fastest-growing women's Web site on the Internet. Also under Black's tutelage, Lifetime magazine, which was developed jointly with Hearst, was launched in April 2003 with a commitment to "real life, real women," Lifetime's slogan. The magazine had a target circulation of 500,000 and was intended for women in their thirties. By 2004 Lifetime served over 85 million households nationwide and was available on more than 11,000 cable and alternative delivery systems.
See also entries on Walt Disney Company and Lifetime Entertainment Services in International Directory of Company Histories .
Hundley, Heather, "The Evolution of Gendercasting: The Lifetime Television Network—Television for Women," Journal of Popular Film and Television , Winter 2002.
Larson, Megan, "Job of a Lifetime," Brandweek , May 8, 2000.
"The Top 25 Managers of the Year," BusinessWeek , January 14, 2002.
—Susan French Ludwig