NBCUniversal Hires Ex-Disney Exec Russell Hampton to Expand Franchise Opportunities

The former Disney Publishing Worldwide president will be tasked with developing licensing and merchandising efforts across NBCUniversal's entire portfolio.

Former Disney Publishing Worldwide president Russell Hampton is headed to NBCUniversal.

Hampton has been hired to fill the newly created position of executive vp franchise management and global consumer products for NBCUniversal's Media Innovation and Cross Company Initiatives Group, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. The group aims to monetize cross-platform content and creating a digital strategy across mobile, social and the web.

Hampton, who officially began Monday, reports to NBCUniversal executive vp Lauren Zalaznick, who oversees the group. He is responsible for developing a strategy around the company's licensing and merchandising efforts across NBCUniversal's film, theme parks, broadcast networks, cable channels and digital properties. Additionally, he will be responsible for identifying possible growth opportunities, namely the kids and families space, including driving digital product and IP development.

"Russell was a person we went after for this job. We certainly surveyed the landscape and looked for domain expertise, which is critical to the licensing and merchandising space particularly with a focus on families and kids," Zalaznick tells THR of Hampton's hire. "There's a combination in Russell of strategist and thinker and doer and operator, almost in equal measure, in the amount of time we've spent together talking and by virtue of what Russell has done."

"NBCUniversal has an amazing collection of assets," Hampton tells THR, citing properties like Top Chef, preschool channel Sprout and the Despicable Me franchise as prime examples. "The best way to monetize IP is creating mega-franchises, properties that can span multiple demographics."

Hampton believes the kids and families space remains a demographic ripe for expansion, though he wouldn't speak specifically to what his first projects would be. "Where there's a big opportunity here is to focus on the kids and family space because it's a very sophisticated market," he says. Hampton hopes to have initiatives in store within the next sixth months.

While at Disney Publishing Worldwide, he led the company . Prior to Disney Publishing Worldwide, Hampton also managed The baby Einstein Company and The Muppets brand. He joined Disney in 1995, and before then was at J.P. Morgan & Co.

Hampton has a Bachelors degrees in English and economics from Colgate University, as well as a Masters in business administration from Northwestern University.

E-mail: Philiana.Ng@thr.com
Twitter: @insidethetube