When a network changes its name, you can’t help but look back on what it used to be. At the beginning of this year, ABC Family rebranded themselves to today’s Freeform. This relaunch of the network shows that the audience has changed, and the “wholesome family” shows that were once played on this network are now teenage-based and much more racy. Here’s a timeline of how today’s Freeform came to be.
2001 – 2006: From Fox Family to ABC Family
Now, before ABC Family was ABC Family, it used to be Fox Family. After the network was sold to Disney in 2001, it was renamed to ABC Family. During this period many of the shows shown were mostly reruns of syndicated series like Boy Meets World, Full House, Family Matters, Sister Sister and Step by Step. These syndicated shows were geared toward a “family”audience, many of them having been aired in the 90s. To keep viewership up, ABC Family also kept programming specials like “25 Days of Christmas” and “13 Nights of Halloween,” which originated on the Fox Family channel since they were deemed favorable among audiences. Harry Potter weekends also helped the viewership of the network, as well.
2006 – 2016 “A New Kind of Family”
By 2006 the network wanted to push for new original programming that led to ABC Family’s new slogan, “A New Kind of Family.” During this time period, many teen-based dramas were developed for the network. Popular shows like Greek, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, and Kyle XY caused an increase of viewership. As these shows became popular, and there was evidence of a younger following, ABC Family continued to create shows like Make it or Break It and 10 Things I Hate About You. There was a real shift from a “family-friendly” audience to a younger teenage-based viewership.
By 2010 ABC Family premiered their most popular show to date: Pretty Little Liars. The show’s popularity gave much success to the network by breaking ratings records that ABC Family had never seen before. In 2011 a ground-breaking show that focused on ASL, Switched at Birth, garnered more success for the network, while also focusing on a subject that had never been on the forefront before.
In 2014, ABC family executives wanted to relaunch the network with the expansion of more original series geared toward demographics ages 14-34. The name change from ABC Family to Freeform was due to non-frequent users thinking that the channel was “wholesome” and “family-based.” The word “family” didn’t fit the look that the network was going for. By January 12, 2016, the name of the network was officially changed from ABC Family to Freeform.
Even with this rebranding, hit shows like Young and Hungry, Pretty Little Liars, and Switched at Birth would still be playing on the network. The first show to launch under Freeform was the fantasy series Shadowhunters, which was renewed for a second season in March.
Even with the shift of being a more edgier/risqué channel, Freeform will still carry on it’s seasonal “25 Days of Christimas” and “13 Days of Halloween.”
Whether it is ABC Family of Freeform, this network is going with the times. In the past it was all about “family friendly” shows, but now audiences are looking for shows that talk about today’s social issues and storylines that push the envelope. Freeform is a reflection of today’s young viewers who are figuring out their lives, changing the norm, and taking on the world, so while ABC Family will be missed, Freeform looks like it will have a very exciting and bright future!
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