ABC Family, founded in 1977, began as an extension of a televangelist ministry. It was not until 1990 that the name The Family Channel was founded, and in 1998, it was soon changed to FOX Family. On October 24th, 2001, the name ABC Family finally was introduced onto television. Since then, it has been the network that has provided us with our favorite shows like, “Baby Daddy,” “Melissa and Joey” and “Pretty Little Liars.” It has also aired some of our favorite Halloween movies during their “13 Night of Halloween” special they have during the month of October. It has been the network to watch our favorite Christmas movies on, with their “25 Days of Christmas” special. This network name is widely known, and people of all generations have found a show or a movie on it that they love. It speaks to all generations. However, on October 6, 2015, Disney–ABC Television Group announced that the network would be rebranded as “Freeform,” on January 1, 2016. ABC executives announced this change because the age group that was watching their channel was 14-34. We have been named the millennial generation. Executives have found that the name “family” is actually turning off these millennials from watching the network and that is one of the main reasons for the name change.
My personal opinion about this name change is quite strong. Sure, I understand that sometimes networks change their names, like when the WB became the CW. This made sense though. This was only a change in initials and it seemed slight, but completely changing the name of ABC Family is not little. It seems to me that the company has to rebrand everything. ABC Family is a household name and it has a certain ring to it. Freeform does not. Imagine saying, “Freeform’s 25 Days of Christmas.” It does not have the same ring to it. It does not sound right. Sure, the executives think this is a great idea, but when you change the name of something like ABC Family to Freeform, you are losing viewers. I understand wanting to appeal to a younger audience, but changing the name is not going to do that, content will. However, when older generations see the name Freeform, they are going to skip across just like they do Teen Nick or Disney Channel. This is because the younger shows are known for being on these channels and this is not something they want to watch.
One big thing I found interesting was the tagline, “New name, same stuff you love.” Sure the shows will remain the same and the content will remain the same (at least, so they say), but the history behind the name and the name the actual network has made for itself cannot be beat. I have a feeling that people are going to call it ABC Family even after its name has changed. While some of it might be out of habit, another will be those people who simply refuse to call it Freeform. I personally do not like the name and I do not see a reason as to why it needed to be changed. The network is still bringing in billions of views. People are still crowding around their televisions during Halloween and Christmas to watch their beloved movies or specials. It seems like a unnecessary change to me.