Earlier this week, the so-called ABC “Family” network announced it was changing its name.
The network, which began its existence in 1988 as the CBN Family Channel under televangelist Pat Robertson, changed hands a decade later and briefly became Fox Family, before being sold to Disney in 2001 and becoming ABC Family.
However, through most of its existence, the channel was far from what most would consider a “family” network. Disney’s original plan was to rename the channel “XYZ” (sort of the “other side” of ABC). However, it was believed that one of the conditions of the original sale was that the network always had to have the word “family” in its name.
In spite of its name, ABC Family worked overtime to distance itself from the “family” concept. The channel’s most notable early success was The Secret Life of the American Teenager, which glorified teen sex and divorce. In time, the network began airing even “edgier” programming, and moved to mocking its own name with the tagline, “A New Kind of Family.
But now, Disney has finally found a way to change the network’s name. Beginning January 1, 2016, the network will be called “Freeform.” Instead of millennials, the network will seek to attract even younger viewers, whom network executives are calling “becomers”: “those who are navigating the time in life when they experience the most firsts – first car, first apartment, first job, first love, first heartbreak.”
The network will begin promoting the new name immediately, while the new logo will be unveiled in a few months. While the fact that young teens are going to be targeted by the network’s increasingly sexual content is unfortunate, at least parents will no longer be misled by the word “Family” in the channel’s title.