ABC Family, the television network serving as the home to hit shows such as Pretty Little Liars, The Fosters, and Chasing Life, is set to change its name in January 2016 to Freeform. The president of the network, Tom Ascheim, says that the name Freeform suits their target audience better. They call this audience the “Becomers,” teens and young adults going through the life stages of becoming their own person, what ABC Family calls “from first kiss to first kid.”
They will keep the shows viewers are already hooked on, but plan to add many more shows, doubling their original programming over the course of the next four years. The name change will occur simultaneously with the winter season premieres of Pretty Little Liars, The Fosters, Young and Hungry, and Baby Daddy, as well as the premieres of two brand new shows, Shadowhunters and Recovery Road.
This will not be the first name change the network has seen. In the 1970’s, the network was the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) and then The Family Channel in 1990. After that change, the network was sold two times and changed to ABC Family when bought by Disney in 2001.
Five years ago the network was reaching 1.37 million “Becomers,” but recently is only reaching about 970,000 of them. They are still doing better than other networks that cater to the young audiences they target, however.
Brad Adgate who worked for the network in the 1990’s, when it was the Family Channel, says, “maybe it’s time for a repositioning and a repackaging,” and, “… setting a reset button is not that risky a move and is probably something that it is time for.” ABC family has expressed that their current branding is not an issue for their present young audience, but “family” gives the wrong impression to new potential consumers.
The only concern is that current viewers will miss the connection, but they are assuring them that their favorite shows are not going anywhere. It is expected that ABC Family will do substantial promoting.
They have already started to promote the new name with an updated advertisement.They’re even hosting a contest on http://freeformfan.com/ where fans are being asked to upload pictures and videos that express what Freeform means to them in a creative way.
They have also started their own hashtag, #Freeform on Twitter. Let us know what you think of the name change, and let them know by tweeting at them with the hash tag!