ABC Family President Tom Ascheim announced on Tuesday, Oct. 6 that the ABC Family will be changing its name to Freeform in January 2016.
The channel, originally known as CBN Satellite Service, has gone through many family-oriented names over the years, from the CBN Family Channel, to The Family Channel, and then the Fox Family Channel, the channel finally settled on ABC Family in 2001 when Disney bought it.
The channel’s past programs have been approved for and focused on young audiences and geared toward wholesome, family friendly programming. However, since 2001, ABC Family has adopted many programs that are geared toward teenagers and young adults. For this reason, Ascheim decided on the need for a name change.
The new name not only suggests that the channel is open to a wider audience, but also encourages the freedom to view programming on differing formats.
Freeform will be geared toward a technologically affluent audience. For this reason, viewers will not only be able to view content on a television screen, but on their smartphones as well.
Freeform also encourages audience and program interaction through social media sites. Viewers will aid in the creation of new content and are encouraged to be vocal on social media.
Freeform is already beginning to show off its interactive side by launching a campaign in which they are inviting fans of ABC Family to upload content onto Freeform’s new website, Freeformfan.com, asking viewers to depict how they are inspired by the word Freeform.
The launch of Freeform will likely gain attention, as it coincides with the winter premieres of many popular ABC Family programs, such as “Pretty Little Liars” and “The Fosters,” to name a few.
Freeform will also be premiering two new original series.
The first, “Shadowhunters,” tells the story of a young girl who discovers that she is half angel, and becomes a demon hunter, which is said to encompass the thrill of shows such as “Game of Thrones” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” The second, “Recovery Road,” tells about a teenager struggling with an addiction who checks into a rehab facility.
The new network hopes to gain more momentum from a male audience in the future, by creating content that is geared toward males.
Editor’s Note: Information from ABCFamily.com, Entertainment Weekly and The Wallstreet Journal was used in this report.
Audiences can follow the buzz on ABC Family’s change and the channel’s new content by following the hashtag #Freeform on social media sites.