|This article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2009)|
|Launched||April 29, 1977
(original launch; as CBN Satellite Service)
August 1, 1988
(relaunch; as The CBN Family Channel)
September 15, 1990
(renamed as The Family Channel)
August 15, 1998
(relaunch; as Fox Family Channel)
November 10, 2001
(relaunch; as ABC Family)
|Owned by||Christian Broadcasting Network (1977–1990)
International Family Entertainment (1990–1998)
Fox Family Worldwide Inc. (Fox Entertainment Group/News Corporation; 50%, Haim Saban; 50%)
ABC Family Worldwide Inc.
(Disney–ABC Television Group/The Walt Disney Company)
|Picture format||720p (HDTV)
|Slogan||A New Kind of Family|
|Formerly called||CBN Satellite Service (1977–1981)
CBN Cable Network (1981–1988)
The CBN Family Channel (1988–1990)
The Family Channel (1990–1998)
Fox Family (1998–2001)
|Sister channel(s)||Disney Channel,
Disney XD, ABC, Fusion,
Live Well Network,
ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPNU
|Timeshift service||ABC Family East
ABC Family West
|Dish Network||180 (HD/SD)|
|Available on most U.S. cable systems||Consult your local cable provider for channel availability|
|AT&T U-Verse||178 (east; SD)
179 (west; SD)
|Verizon FiOS||199 (SD)
ABC Family (stylized as abc family since 2001) is an American basic cable and satellite television channel that is owned by ABC Family Worldwide Inc., a subsidiary of the Disney–ABC Television Group division of The Walt Disney Company. The channel generally offers contemporary as well as family-oriented programming aimed at a wide audience, but primarily features series and movies aimed at teenage girls and young women (age 15-30); its programming includes off-network syndicated reruns and original series, feature films and made-for-TV original movies, and some religious programming.
The network was founded in 1977 as an extension of televangelist Pat Robertson's Christian television ministry, and eventually evolved into The Family Channel by 1990. In 1998, it was sold to Fox Kids Worldwide Inc. and renamed Fox Family. On October 24, 2001, Fox Family Channel and Fox Family Worldwide were sold to The Walt Disney Company, in a sale that also included Saban Entertainment.
As of August 2013, ABC Family is available to approximately 96,462,000 pay television households (84.47% of households with television) in the United States.
- 1 History
- 2 Programming
- 3 Related services
- 4 International version
- 5 Criticism
- 6 Network slogans
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Early history (1977–1998)
ABC Family launched on April 29, 1977, as the CBN Satellite Service, an arm of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), which focused mainly on religious programming. The channel was notable for being one of the first cable channels to distribute its signal nationally through satellite transmission (a method that HBO had first pioneered in September 1975). The channel's name was later changed to the CBN Cable Network in September 1981 and its carriage grew to one million homes by that year. Around this time, the channel adopted a more secular programming format featuring a mix of recent and classic family-oriented series and films, while retaining some religious programs from various televangelists (mirroring the format used by CBN's independent television stations of that time).
On August 1, 1988, the word "Family" was incorporated into the channel's name to better reflect its format, rebranding as The CBN Family Channel. By 1990, the network had grown too profitable to remain under the CBN banner without endangering CBN's non-profit status. CBN spun it off to a new company called International Family Entertainment Inc. (which was operated by Robertson's son, Timothy Robertson, and partially co-owned by cable magnate John C. Malone), and the name was changed to simply The Family Channel on September 15, 1990 (although this name was used in on-air promotions while the channel was still under CBN ownership).
As The Family Channel, it attracted a slightly older (and religious) audience that is not sought by advertisers; only about one-third of homes watching the network included children or youths. The Family Channel started airing television shows for preschool children, pre-teens, and teenagers to target all members of the family. During this time, The Family Channel sponsored NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Ted Musgrave from 1994-1997 in the number 16 Ford Thunderbird for Roush Racing.
Fox Family (1998–2001)
In 1997, News Corporation entered into discussions to purchase a stake in The Family Channel with International Family Entertainment as a partner, in order to use the channel to carry the library of children's programs that News Corporation had owned through television production company Saban Entertainment. That June, IFE was purchased by Fox Kids Worldwide Inc., a joint venture of News Corporation and Saban Entertainment, which was renamed in turn to Fox Family Worldwide Inc. The Family Channel was officially renamed Fox Family Channel on August 15, 1998. With the change in ownership, Fox Family's operations were also migrated from Virginia Beach, Virginia (which serves as the headquarters of the Christian Broadcasting Network) and integrated with the operations of some of News Corporation's other cable channels in Los Angeles.
Following the sale to Fox/Saban, The 700 Club was scaled back to two airings a day (though the sale agreement required the channel to air it three times daily, once each in the morning, late evening and overnight hours), with the evening broadcast being moved out of prime time and pushed an hour later to 11 p.m. ET from 10 p.m. More cartoons were added to the channel's lineup, many of which were from the Fox Kids program library, with about eight hours of cartoons airing each day. However, Fox Family also became a cornerstone for syndicating foreign television series (primarily those produced in English-speaking countries), such as the popular British S Club 7 television series, which became the flagship series for the channel until the early 2000s. The channel also syndicated many Canadian series, both animated and live action, including Angela Anaconda, Big Wolf on Campus, Edgemont, I Was a Sixth Grade Alien, and briefly The Zack Files; along with running cartoons and anime programs based on video games, such as Donkey Kong Country, Megaman and Monster Rancher, with most airing as part of the channel's morning lineup. The channel aired reruns of some Fox Kids series such as Bobby's World, Eek! The Cat and Life with Louie, and added some recent family sitcoms as well. The new schedule also included reruns of Pee-wee's Playhouse, which had not been seen on television since 1991 after CBS pulled reruns of the series from its Saturday morning lineup following Paul Reubens' arrest for indecent exposure at a pornographic movie theater in Sarasota, Florida.
When Fox/Saban bought the channel in 1997, programmers sought a new dual audience – kids in daytime, families at night. In 1999, Fox spun off two digital cable channels from Fox Family, the Boyz Channel and the Girlz Channel, which both contained program content targeted at the respective genders; both networks shut down after one year due to a lack of demand by cable providers and the controversy that developed over the gender-segregated channels. To a point, Disney relaunched the concept somewhat in February 2009 with the replacement of Toon Disney with the tween boy-targeting Disney XD, while Disney Channel has shifted towards featuring programming appealing more towards girls (though not necessarily in the same gender-exclusionary manner as the Boyz/Girlz Channel concept).
Fox Family ultimately saw its overall viewership slide from 10th to 17th place in the Nielsen cable ratings, and its primetime viewership decline by 35%, as a result of an increasingly competitive race for younger viewers and the bickering over ownership between News Corporation and Haim Saban. Some observers believe that it chased away some of the older viewers and never really replaced the core audience. It is also suggested that Fox hired more employees than needed, and when Disney took over, as many as 500 were laid off (this came at a time when Disney itself was downsizing, with 400 other employees being laid off from its failed Go Network online service), but Fox Family also used many freelancers for certain aspects of the channel, such as its short-lived "block jocks" (which were on-air hosts that the channel hired to present the channel's afternoon children's programs); most of the monikers for the network were created by freelance artists. However, the Disney acquisition took the channel into a deeper decline in its early years.
Sale to Disney and rebranding as ABC Family (2001–2006)
Fox Family Worldwide Inc. was sold to The Walt Disney Company (which had previously purchased Capital Cities/ABC in February 1996, changing its corporate name to ABC, Inc.), for $2.9 billion on October 24, 2001; the sale to The Walt Disney Company included ownership of Saban Entertainment. The network was officially renamed ABC Family on November 10, 2001.
The channel's sale to Disney was considered one of the biggest mistakes or problems occurring during the tenure of company president Michael Eisner. The failure was primarily due to the acquisition being conducted by the strategic planning department of Disney, without consulting anyone at ABC. The original plan was to use the channel to essentially show reruns of ABC programming, but this plan was impossible as ABC did not hold syndication rights to the majority of its own programs, only having rights to those that were produced by its Walt Disney Television and Touchstone Television divisions whose distribution rights were held by Buena Vista Television. During this time, the channel did air same-season repeats of Alias, Less Than Perfect and Life with Bonnie, almost all of which were Touchstone Television productions. But in trying to change the focus of the channel, Disney also canceled several Fox Family series (such as the 1960s-set period dramedy State of Grace), and cut back on the network's made-for-cable movies, which were among the few programs that Fox Family was doing well with. Ratings tumbled further as the network became dependent on syndicated reruns and had no original programs on its schedule (save for original wraparound segments that aired around repeats of The Bachelor, and children's programming).
The next major plan was to reposition the channel to market it to college students, young women, or to a more hip audience under the name "XYZ," a reverse reference to ABC. Disney soon found out that the channel could never be renamed as such. The original sale from CBN to International Family Entertainment contained a stipulation that the channel contain the word "Family" in the name permanently, regardless as to who owns the network. To create XYZ, the Family Channel would have had to cease to exist – terminating all existing cable and satellite carriage contracts in the process – and XYZ would have to be created as an entirely new network. Pay television providers would not be obligated to put XYZ in the channel slot vacated by the Family Channel. ABC scrapped the idea after discovering this clause. The name was revisited at one point in 2003, serving as a program block entitled "The XYZ.", showing programs and movies aimed at the aforementioned groups. The network was also used as a buffer to burn off failed ABC series, such as All American Girl, which featured Spice Girl Geri Halliwell.
Another one of Robertson's stipulations in his sale of the original Family Channel to its future line of secular owners was that his syndicated talk show, The 700 Club, be aired twice daily on the network (although this is the set requirement, ABC Family carries The 700 Club three times each weekday; once in the morning, twice at night), along with a half-hour CBN talk show called Living the Life (which has since been replaced by The 700 Club Interactive), and that a day-long CBN telethon (which airs the week before the Super Bowl each year) be broadcast annually. Following controversial remarks made by Robertson on the former program about Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, as well as other equally controversial comments regarding homosexuals, feminists, Muslims, abortion and many other social issues, ABC Family moved to distance itself from the program. On August 29, 2005, ABC Family changed the disclaimers before, during, and after the 700 Club broadcasts from "The following/preceding program is/was brought to you by CBN" to "The following/preceding CBN telecast does not reflect the views of ABC Family." Since 2003, ABC Family has been producing more successful original movies and series.
ABC Family Today (2006–present)
In August 2006, an all new slogan and visual style premiered on ABC Family: A New Kind of Family. On August 31, 2006, ABC Family discontinued the Jetix children's block as a part of a plan by Disney to convert all Jetix telecasts to Toon Disney. Jetix aired various programs since its debut on the network in 2002, which included Metabots, Beyblade, Digimon: Digital Monsters, Daigunder and Get Ed. Of its long list of programs, the Power Rangers series was its most successful. Sitcom repeats currently air in Jetix's former timeslot from 7-9 a.m. ET, with the morning airing of the 700 Club/Living the Life block pushed back a half-hour further to 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time and sitcom reruns airing during the 9 a.m. Eastern half-hour. Since the removal of Jetix, ABC Family has not aired any programming targeted at pre-teen audiences; those programs now air on sister network Disney Channel (incidentally just prior to the Fox purchase, ABC Family – as The Family Channel – did not carry any children's programming on its schedule, much of it was not readded until shortly before the rebrand to Fox Family).
Despite being co-owned with Disney Channel – and targeting a similar audience, very little of Disney Channel's programming has aired on ABC Family (except for reruns of Boy Meets World and previously Gargoyles as part of its now-defunct Jetix block and Sister, Sister; in fact, episodes of Sister, Sister that aired on ABC Family until it was removed from the lineup in April 2010 were the edited Disney Channel versions as ABC Family did not purchase the original syndicated prints of the show from CBS Television Distribution). However, the channel has aired some films featuring performers that have been associated with Disney in recent years, such as Hilary Duff, The Jonas Brothers, Ashley Tisdale, Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez. The only Disney Channel productions to have aired on ABC Family were the 2008 movie Camp Rock and the 2011 films Lemonade Mouth and Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension, which are also three of only four Disney Channel movies to air domestically on a non-Disney Channel branded network (Cadet Kelly is the other, having aired on The Wonderful World of Disney in 2002; ABC Family also aired reruns of The Famous Jett Jackson as part of the initial Jetix Lineup).
In October 2007, ABC Family completely redesigned its website, giving it a more modernized appearance. The broadband player was also streamlined, adding more content including reruns of the channel's original series (such as Kyle XY and Greek), and select episodes of acquired programs (such as 7th Heaven and Grounded for Life), as well as adding some Fox Kids programming that the channel still owns (such as Attack of the Killer Tomatoes).
In 2007, Kyle XY gave the channel the highest viewership in the network's history, that record was later broken in 2008 by the series premiere of The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Nearly three years later, the record was broken again with Switched at Birth premiering to 3.3 million viewers on June 6, 2011. Since then, ABC Family has launched more shows geared towards young adults (particularly females), including popular dramas such as Make It or Break It and The Lying Game, and comedies such as 10 Things I Hate About You, Melissa & Joey and Baby Daddy.
In July 2009, the network earned its best-ever ratings for the month of July in primetime and in total viewership due to returning series The Secret Life of the American Teenager and new series Make It or Break It, 10 Things I Hate About You and Ruby & The Rockits along with extended features from the Harry Potter film franchise and the television premiere of Labor Pains. On June 8, 2010, the premiere of the ABC Family original drama series Pretty Little Liars, successfully broke series premiere ratings records for ABC Family, across all major viewing demographics of women and young people.
ABC Family currently offers a slate of mostly reruns of contemporary comedies, such as Reba, The Middle, America's Funniest Home Videos and That '70s Show, and drama series such as Gilmore Girls. Since 2000, the network has aired several sitcoms that have aired on ABC's former TGIF block, including the Miller-Boyett produced Step by Step (one of the longest-running shows on the channel, running from 2001 to 2010), Family Matters (which ran from 2003 to 2008), Two of a Kind (which ran from 1999 to 2005), Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (which ran from 2006 to 2011) and Full House (which ran from 2003 to 2013); Boy Meets World is the only TGIF show that currently airs on the network.
The channel also produces some original programming, which currently include shows such as Pretty Little Liars, Twisted, The Fosters, Melissa & Joey, Switched at Birth and Baby Daddy. Until the debuts of Melissa & Joey (in 2010) and Baby Daddy (in 2012), ABC Family had long faced minimal success with its original sitcoms, with its drama series often outlasting its comedies.
ABC Family airs its original drama series on Monday and/or Tuesday nights, and since 2011, has aired its comedy series on Wednesday nights. The network airs first-run episodes of its original series air on the channel mainly between January and August, with films generally airing in their place during primetime on the aforementioned nights from September to December (the only exception since 2010, have been annual Halloween episodes of Pretty Little Liars that air as part of the "13 Nights of Halloween" in October as well as the debut of the first third of season one of Ravenswood in October 2013); the first 10 episodes (or as few as eight for new series) of each season of its original programs air consecutively, the season's remaining episodes are broadcast following a four to six month hiatus. ABC Family typically only reruns episodes of its original series in a marathon that airs prior to a season premiere, mid-season or season finale, or other special occasion, though the channel does air encore presentations of its shows that typically preempt programs that normally air at 7 and 10 p.m. Eastern Time during the rest of the week on these nights (with the previous week's episode airing in the former timeslot prior to the newest episode and a same-night encore of the newest episode on the evening of an episode premiere in the latter timeslot).
The channel also airs religious programming, a remnant from the network's CBN ownership, including daily broadcasts of The 700 Club and The 700 Club Interactive, as well as ministry programs from Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, James Robison, Joseph Prince, Doug Batchelor, Kerry Shook and Zola Levitt; aside from the 700 Club and 700 Club Interactive airings, most of the religious programs carried by ABC Family generally air between 5-7 a.m. Eastern Time each weekday, and Sundays from 5:30-7 a.m. in the morning and 12-1 a.m. Eastern at night.
ABC Family is one of only two Disney-owned cable channels in the U.S. (ESPN Classic being the other) to air infomercials and one of the only cable channels to air informercials before 2:30 a.m. Eastern Time; paid programming airs on the channel from 2-7 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 12-7 a.m. on Sundays (all times Eastern).
ABC Family airs movies in primetime on Thursday and Friday nights (and if no original series are scheduled, Mondays, Tuesdays and/or Wednesdays as well), along with a day-long schedule of films on weekends from as early as 7 a.m. (sometimes later, such as around 7:30 or 8 a.m. ET) to as late as 2 a.m. ET on Saturdays and 12 a.m. ET on Sundays. Movies airing on the channel are targeted at various audiences – from pre-teens, to families, to teens and adults – with a large amount of films airing on ABC Family being distributed by corporate sister Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, 20th Century Fox (owned by the channel's former parent 21st Century Fox) and Warner Bros. Entertainment.
ABC Family has also purchased the cable television rights to many film series, such as the Harry Potter film series (which ABC and Disney Channel also hold rights to), 2004's A Cinderella Story (and its made-for-DVD spinoffs Another Cinderella Story and A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song) and most recently the Legally Blonde film series (after securing rights to the 2009 made-for-DVD release Legally Blondes). From 1998 (as Fox Family) to 2002, ABC Family also secured cable rights to several films starring Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen (this was around the time the network aired their short-lived ABC sitcom Two of a Kind, but just prior to carrying Full House).
The channel also produces its own original made-for-TV movies (targeting a slightly older audience than those aired by sister network Disney Channel); some of ABC Family's most popular original movies include Night of the Twisters (the channel's first original movie, which premiered during its existence as The Family Channel), Holiday in Handcuffs, the Au Pair trilogy, My Fake Fiance and Cyberbully. ABC Family has also recently been generating high levels of viewers with its weekend movie events; the "Harry Potter Weekend" block in July 2009 generated some of the highest levels of viewers for its weekend events for the year to date.
From 2000 to 2001, Fox Family aired a weekly Major League Baseball game on Thursday nights during the league's regular season (a game that had previously aired nationwide on Fox Sports Net from 1997 to 1999), as well as select Division Series games. As part of its purchase of Fox Family, in addition to that game, Disney acquired the MLB rights that were also held by Fox Family's then-sister channel FX. Those two game packages were moved to ESPN beginning with the 2002 baseball season, but the playoff games remained on ABC Family for one additional year due to contractual issues. A deal was made to move those playoff games to ESPN, which produced the games for ABC Family, starting with the 2003 season. Although the games aired on Disney-owned networks, Fox kept the exclusive negotiation to renew the contract after the 2006 season. Fox chose not to renew their rights to the Division Series, which went to TBS as part of its new baseball contract.
Seasonal programming blocks
25 Days of Christmas
The channel has been known for airing many Christmas specials, such as the Rankin-Bass programs The Little Drummer Boy and Santa Claus Is Coming to Town. ABC Family has since expanded this holiday programming, adding made-for-television and theatrically-released movies, a litany of Rankin-Bass sequels (this was complicated somewhat because the broadcast rights some of the original specials, including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, were still owned by CBS), and other original programming to create "The 25 Days of Christmas". This program block airs in primetime on weekdays and from noon through primetime on weekends from December 1 through 25th each year, and has existed since 1996 when ABC Family under its previous brand as The Family Channel. The block has broadcast some movies that are not necessarily holiday-related; in 2006, for example, movies from the Harry Potter film series were shown along with Mary Poppins (the 2004 Enhanced Home Theater Mix version with redubbed sound effects was broadcast until 2013, when the master was updated) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Also that year, Dr. Seuss on the Loose and The Cat in the Hat were added, however, not with How the Grinch Stole Christmas. However, ABC Family does remove some portions of these specials due to time constraints or song clearance issues, including the "Peppermint Mine" scene in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the "I'm Kubla Kraus" song number in Jack Frost.
13 Nights of Halloween
The success of "25 Days of Christmas" led to this holiday spin-off, which airs from October 19 to October 31 each year. The block was created in 1998 during the Fox Family era, as the "13 Days of Halloween", which was subsequently renamed to the current "13 Nights of Halloween" in 2002 following Disney/ABC's purchase of the channel. The programming block became one of the biggest successes for the network; however, it was not broadcast in 2003 as the channel's new programming executives simply decided not to air the block for reasons that remain unclear. The "13 Nights of Halloween" returned in 2004, which included reruns of Scariest Places on Earth (which debuted as part of the original block during the Fox Family era) and the premiere of the original made-for-TV movie The Hollow. The 2005 schedule provided a return to more traditional Halloween programming and scary movies. It has been steadily growing ever since, but has not received the same attention as it had in the Fox Family era. Halloween-themed films, thrillers and horror films are commonly aired during the "13 Nights of Halloween" (such as The Sixth Sense, Corpse Bride, Scooby Doo and occasionally Stephen King's It and Nightworld: Lost Souls).
Starting in 2013, ABC Family kicked off a four day spring event. It aired from Thursday, April 18th to Easter Sunday (April 20th). In 2014, Spring Crush got extended to five days beginning on April 16 and going until Easter Sunday (April 20th). During this programming block, spring themed movies, and prom movies are shown. Movies include Tangled, Hop, the Cinderella Story movie series, Fame, and many others. In 2013, ABC Family debuted an original musical called Lovestruck: The Musical
In 2013, ABC Family debuted a ten day event running from July 29th to August 7th. Summer Crush shows Summer Love themed movies. These movies include Prom, The Princess Diaries, The Last Song, So Undercover, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Hairspray, Legally Blonde, Billy Madison, and other Summer-Love themed movies. During this time, ABC Family also airs special prom or loved themed specials of their original series.
Past programming blocks
ABC Family Action Block / Jetix
The "ABC Family Action Block" debuted on the network in March 2002 (as part of a reduction of its children's programming), featuring various live action and (primarily) animated children's programs such as Medabots, Beyblade, Digimon: Digital Monsters, Daigunder and Get Ed. The block was rebranded as "Jetix" in February 2004, at the same time that a Jetix block also launched on Toon Disney. Of its long list of programs, the Power Rangers series was its most successful. ABC Family's Jetix block was discontinued in September 2006, although Jetix continued to air on Toon Disney. Sitcom repeats currently air on ABC Family in Jetix's former timeslot from 7-9 a.m. ET. The reason for Jetix's removal from ABC Family was its expansion on Toon Disney (taking over more than half of said channel's schedule). Most of Jetix's programming was previously aired on Fox Kids and Fox Family. The Jetix brand was discontinued in the United States outright on February 13, 2009, when Toon Disney was relaunched as Disney XD.
ABC Family HD
|ABC Family HD is a high definition simulcast feed of ABC Family that broadcasts in the 720p resolution format, it was launched in early 2008. All of the network's original series and films currently are produced in high definition, which are aired in a widescreen letterbox forrmat on the SD channel. Films airing on the channel are also broadcast in HD whenever possible. ABC Family HD is carried on select cable and satellite providers such as Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Cable One, Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-verse, Charter Communications, DirecTV and Dish Network.|
|ABC Family On Demand||ABC Family On Demand is the channel's video-on-demand service, offering recent episodes of the channel's original series and select made-for-TV movies to digital cable and IPTV providers. ABC Family On Demand's rotating program selection incorporates select new titles that are added the day after a program's original episode airdate (or every two weeks for its original movie selections), alongside existing program titles held over from the previous two weeks.|
|WATCH ABC Family||WATCH ABC Family is a website for desktop and laptop computers, as well as an application for smartphones and tablet computers that allows subscribers of participating cable and satellite providers (such as Comcast Xfinity, Bright House Networks and Cox Communications) to watch live streams of ABC Family's programming on computers and mobile devices via their TV Everywhere login provided by their cable provider; the service is also available through Kindle Fire and Samsung Galaxy devices. Individual episodes of the channel's series, along with additional content such as behind-the-scenes features are also available. Prior to the launch of WATCH ABC Family on January 7, 2014, recent episodes of the channel's programs could be streamed by any internet user within the United States and its territories through ABC Family's website and mobile app, and Hulu for one week after their original broadcast; episode streaming is now restricted solely to those who subscribe to a participating cable or satellite provider that supports the service (which had the side effect of making the channel's programming content unavailable for streaming by subscribers of certain pay television providers in addition to those that do not have a pay television subscription, requiring those affected by the change to purchase episodes of ABC Family series through iTunes and Google Play or view them through ABC Family's television VOD service as well as live viewing on the linear television channel).|
Relationship with Family Channel (Canada)
Aside from some common programming and the fact that both channels target a similar audience, the various iterations of CBN/Fox/ABC Family have had no affiliation with the Canadian specialty channel Family Channel. The existence of that channel (which is currently in the process of being acquired by DHX Media) has occasionally led to the presumption that the two channels are affiliated. Family Channel and ABC Family both currently have a significant connection to The Walt Disney Company (Family Channel primarily acquires its foreign programming from ABC Family sister networks Disney Channel and Disney XD, while Disney owns ABC Family outright). However, the two channels developed separately in each country, and as such, neither channel can be considered an international version of the other, especially given that ABC Family is advertiser-supported, whereas Family Channel is licensed as a premium channel (although it is carried as a basic service on many Canadian cable and satellite providers) and therefore is not allowed to accept traditional advertising under the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission's licensing rules for cable television services.
Allarcom and First Choice had first proposed using the "Family Channel" name in 1987. The American channel did not adopt the "CBN Family Channel" name until August 1988 (one month before Canada's Family Channel signed on), and eventually dropped the CBN name from its branding two years later in September 1990. Nevertheless, some American cable providers confusingly have displayed Family Channel's "Paint and Sun" logo (which it used from 1988 to 1998) as that of ABC Family's logo on electronic program guides, and occasionally the reverse has occurred with ABC Family's Robertson-era logo as The Family Channel appearing in some Canadian listings (the "Family" script in ABC Family's 1988-1998 logo as The (CBN) Family Channel partially resembles that of the original logo of Canada's Family Channel). Ironically enough, due to Disney Channel's longtime programming agreement with the Canadian service, Family Channel is often thought of as a de facto Canadian version of Disney Channel.
On October 26, 2011, The Walt Disney Company and Toronto-based media company Corus Entertainment entered into a partnership to launch a Canadian version of ABC Family under the name ABC Spark, which launched on March 23, 2012. The channel, which is licensed by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission as a Category B specialty channel (which under CRTC rules, allows Canadian digital cable and direct broadcast satellite providers to optionally choose to carry the channel), is aimed at teenagers and young adults between 15- and 34-years-old. The ABC Spark name was chosen to avoid viewer confusion and/or legal issues with the unrelated Family Channel. ABC Spark is available on many Canadian cable and satellite providers including Cogeco, Rogers Cable, Bell TV, Shaw Cable and Telus.
With the 2006 introduction of new shows to the network by Disney, many parents have reacted negatively to ABC Family's programming. Many people feel that the network has gone from family friendly to "too risqué," and shows like Greek and The Secret Life of the American Teenager are far too racy for "family viewers." Critics feel the executives at ABC Family are only after attracting viewership and are unconcerned about showing younger generations in questionable scenarios in its series and films. Mostly, the main focus is on teenage pregnancy and underage drinking.
It should be noted that despite the channel's name including the word "Family" (as the channel is contractually required to keep the word in its name), the channel's programming content standards had changed several years earlier after the sale of the channel by Pat Robertson and International Family Entertainment, and the channel had even aired some acquired series and movies that contain profanity, violence and sexual content or dialogue after the sale to News Corporation, only running them somewhat moreso since being purchased by The Walt Disney Company. ABC Family does air parental advisory tags at the beginning of some TV-14 rated programs, such as That '70s Show and some episodes of The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Twisted and The Fosters.
- "Stay with Us, We're CBN" (1977–1985; as CBN Satellite Service and CBN Cable Network)
- "Just Watch Us" (1985–1988; as CBN Cable Network)
- "Families are Moving to CBN" (1986; as CBN Cable Network; used concurrently with "Just Watch Us")
- "Together, We're Family" (1988–1991; as The CBN Family Channel and The Family Channel)
- "The Greatest in the Family" (1991–1995; as The Family Channel)
- "There's Nothing Stronger" (1995–1996)
- "Just Watch Us Now" (1996–1998)
- "You Belong" (1998–2000; as Fox Family)
- "It's Electric" (2000–2001)
- "Everything You Want to Know from A to Z" (2001–2003; as ABC Family)
- "It's All About You" (2003–2006)
- "A New Kind of Family" (2006–present)
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- The Family Channel history
- The Influencer, The New Yorker, May 10, 2010.
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