Television networks preceding ABC Family
The American cable and satellite television network ABC Family has gone through several different owners during its history. Stipulations in sales terms for the network require that the network maintain the word "Family" in its name.
- 1 CBN Satellite Service/Cable (Network)
- 2 The Family Channel
- 3 Fox Family
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
CBN Satellite Service/Cable (Network)
The network was founded by Pat Robertson as the CBN Satellite Service, an arm of his Christian Broadcasting Network, that launched on April 29, 1977. It was the first basic cable channel to be delivered by satellite from launch. The network offered only Christian television programs when it first began. The offerings included airings of The 700 Club three times each weekday, along with programs from many well known and lesser-known television evangelists. As a result, a few televangelists began making Monday-through-Friday programs. The CBN Satellite Service grew its subscriber base to 10.9 million homes by May 1981.
In September 1981, the network relaunched as CBN Cable Network, a "family-friendly" entertainment network. The network continued to offer religious shows for about a third of the day's schedule. The entertainment shows included classic sitcoms from the 1950s, westerns, reruns of game shows, older movies, and some family drama series, as well as a handful of Christian or family-friendly animated series (including some anime, such as CBN's own co-productions with Tatsunoko Production in Japan, Superbook and The Flying House; there were also English-dubbed versions of Honey, Honey and Leo the Lion). Under the new format, the CBN Cable Network grew from 28 million households in May 1985, to 35.8 million in May 1987.
The Family Channel
On August 1, 1988, the word "Family" was incorporated into the channel's name to better reflect the format, renaming it as The CBN Family Channel. The logo used until the sale to News Corporation consisted of a blue ring with "The" written on the top and "Channel" at the bottom with blended yellow and red "Family" written in a script font and overlaid on the ring and an orange/yellow striped sphere. Commercials promoting the channel were changed as well, showing "Family Moments" such as a family playing checkers, a grandfather bonding with his grandson, and a woman hugging her husband on her wedding day.
By 1990, the network had grown too profitable to remain under the CBN banner without endangering the Christian Broadcasting Network's non-profit status. CBN spun it off to a new company called International Family Entertainment Inc. (run by Robertson's son, Tim, and operated as a joint venture between the Robertson family and Denver-based cable television provider Tele-Communications Inc.), and the name was changed to simply The Family Channel on September 15, 1990 (though promotions for the channel's programs referred to it under that name while still known as "The CBN Family Channel"); as a stipulation of the sale to International Family Entertainment, the channel was required to continue to carry The 700 Club (a stipulation that Pat Robertson also imposed when the channel was sold to News Corporation in 1998 and then to The Walt Disney Company in 2001). The network gained more visibility when, for several years in the mid-1990s, it was the primary sponsor of Ted Musgrave's #16 Ford in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series.
At that point, the 1950s sitcoms and westerns were scaled back in favor of more recent drama series as well as cartoons and (later) game shows (with a mix of both original programming, like Trivial Pursuit and Shop 'til You Drop and reruns of older programming like Jim Lange's Name That Tune and Let's Make a Deal). In fact, the game show block consisted of the games listed above and also the later era of Split Second and other shows especially produced for the channel such as Shopping Spree, Small Talk, Wait 'til You Have Kids and a revival of It Takes Two, hosted by Dick Clark. Briefly during the mid-1990s, children's programming was removed from The Family Channel's schedule, before returning to the lineup by 1997.
By the early 1990s, it was seen in 47.6 million households. As The Family Channel, it attracted an older audience not sought by advertisers; only about one-third of homes watching the network included children or youth. In 1993, a U.K. version of the channel launched, eventually turning into a network dedicated to game shows known as Challenge. In addition, The Family Channel attempted a spinoff called The Game Channel, an interactive game show-oriented channel which was set to launch that same year (International Family Entertainment launched another cable channel the following year with Cable Health Club, later renamed FitTV; the network's lineage is in the current-day Discovery Communications-owned network Discovery Fit & Health).
The Family Channel was sold to News Corporation's Fox Kids Worldwide Inc. in July 1997, that subsidiary was renamed Fox Family Worldwide Inc. as a result of the acquisition. The Family Channel was renamed as Fox Family Channel (though on-air promos typically referred to the channel as just "Fox Family") on August 15, 1998 at 12 p.m.; at the same time, MTM Enterprises was sold to 20th Century Fox Film Corporation. Storytime With Thomas was shown for 2 or 3 short years it had 1 short singalong with thomas segment 2 thomas stories but in between both had Mumfy the Elephant episodes with it. Reruns of Shining Time Station also aired. Airings of The 700 Club were scaled back to two times each 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 primetime, pushed an hour later to 11 p.m. ET from 10 p.m. Weekly airings of Columbo were also moved from 9 p.m. ET to 10 p.m. on Sundays. More cartoons were added to the lineup, many of which were from the Fox Kids library. The network was running about eight hours of cartoons a day. However, Fox Family also became a cornerstone for syndicating foreign television series, such as the popular British S Club 7 TV series, which became the flagship series for the channel until the new millennium. The channel also syndicated many Canadian television series, both animated and live action, including Angela Anaconda, Big Wolf on Campus, I Was a 6th Grade Alien, Mega Babies, and briefly, The Zack Files. The channel even showed cartoons and anime based on video games, such as Donkey Kong Country, Megaman, and Monster Rancher. Most of these shows were a part of the channel's morning lineup, which also included the original series Great Pretenders. Fox Family aired reruns of some of Fox Kids's shows such as Bobby's World, Eek! The Cat, and Life with Louie. The channel added some recent family sitcoms as well, along with European shorts like Tom And Vicky, Animal Shelf and 64 Zoo Lane. When Fox 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 content focusing on each gender; both channels went off the air one year later due to lack of demand (both services were carried in some 100,000 homes in an era when digital cable was in its infancy) and the controversy that developed over the sex-segregated channels.
Major League Baseball
In the late 1990s, Fox Family aired Major League Baseball games, usually on Thursday or Saturday nights, alternating with sister network FX. Starting with the 2001 season, the network also showed games from the first round of the playoffs, the Division Series, which did not air on Fox.
Among the games that aired on Fox Family included the San Francisco Giants at Houston Astros on October 4, 2001. That night, Barry Bonds hit his 70th home run of the season, which tied the all-time single season record that Mark McGwire had set only three years earlier (Bonds broke the record the next night).
The 700 Club
As part of the agreement when International Family Entertainment sold the network to Fox, The 700 Club aired twice every weekday; live at 10 a.m. Eastern, then repeated at 11 p.m. Eastern. It also aired occasional weekend-long CBN telethons as part of the deal (and continues to do so in the ABC Family era). As of December 2011, The 700 Club airs three times every weekday; live at 10 a.m. Eastern Time, then repeats at 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. ET.
Fox Family Films
Fox created a film division for the channel, Fox Family Films, which created films aimed towards different age groups, mainly children, including Addams Family Reunion, which was shown in its inauguration of the channel, and Digimon: The Movie, which was compiled from several Japanese Digimon short films. For a more teenage audience, Fox Family Films created Ice Angel, a TV movie about a hockey player reborn as a female synchronized skater, as well as the thriller Don't Look Behind You. Fox Family also aired a wide array of Saban Entertainment-produced movies as well as airing many direct-to-video 20th Century Fox films, including Richie Rich's Christmas Wish, Casper: A Spirited Beginning, and Like Father, Like Santa.
The 13 Days of Halloween
In 1998, Fox Family introduced one of its most successful programming concepts, The 13 Days of Halloween, a two-week long block during October leading into Halloween which introduced the television series, The New Addams Family and some new movies such as Casper Meets Wendy. Disney/ABC changed the block's name to the 13 Nights of Halloween in 2002. A few years later, the new live-action Scooby-Doo film became part of its annual Halloween lineup. This continues to be one of the most successful programming blocks to date for the current channel, ABC Family.
The 25 Days of Christmas
In addition to Halloween, Fox Family aired 25 Days of Christmas, a four-week block which originally began when Fox Family was The Family Channel two years earlier. It also continued to run during the month of December after Fox Family became ABC Family in 2001. This holiday block airs every year from December 1 to Christmas Day. Starting in 2007, it extended into late November as Countdown to 25 Days of Christmas.
Change in visual style
In 2000, Fox Family adopted a new visual style in an attempt to attract an older audience and began to feature some original and acquired programming aimed at adults, but was still family-friendly. The channel bought the syndication rights to the CBS series Early Edition, and two ABC series: My So-Called Life and Step by Step (the latter of which aired on ABC Family until March 2010). The channel also acquired the short-lived NBC series Freaks and Geeks, including unaired episodes of the show, and more "romantic comedy" themed original movies. Keeping kids and families in mind, the channel introduced the original series State of Grace and the Fox Family's Summer High School Countdown programming block for teens (which introduced the Swedish singing group Play). However, the idea was unsuccessful, as a year later, Fox Family was sold to Disney, and State of Grace was only kept for one more season.
Under Fox's ownership, Fox Family saw its ranking slide from 10th to 17th place as a result of an increasingly competitive race for younger viewers and the bickering over ownership between News Corporation and Haim Saban.[original research?] Some observers believe that it chased away some of the older viewers and never really replaced the core audience. As a result, prime time ratings declined 35% over the course of the channel's three years under News Corporation ownership. It is also suggested that Fox hired more employees than they needed, and when Disney took over, as many as 500 were laid off (this was also at a time when Disney itself was downsizing, with 400 others laid off from its failed Go Network web portal) but Fox Family also used many freelancers for certain aspects of the channel, such as their short-lived "block jocks" and 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.[original research?]
Change to Family and then to ABC Family
On July 23, 2001, it was announced that Fox Family Worldwide Inc. would be sold to The Walt Disney Company for $2.9 billion. The sale to Disney included Saban Entertainment. The sale was completed on October 24, 2001. The remaining Fox Kids shows that Family aired were broadcast under the ABC Family Action Block banner (which was changed to Jetix shortly thereafter), but were relegated to the morning hours, partly to reduce competition with new sister network Disney Channel; shows aimed at a broader family audience as well as teenagers and/or adults replaced the more kid-oriented shows in afternoon timeslots.
In November 2001, the Family name was changed to ABC Family (the on-air look that Fox Family used in its last year under News Corporation ownership was modified for ABC Family in the meantime, including music, but programming and announcers were changed), and the Jetix block remained until it was discontinued on August 31, 2006, with Jetix moving exclusively to Toon Disney on September 2 of that year (effectively removing children's programming from the channel altogether since that point). ABC Family also inherited the Fox Family baseball playoff coverage with the telecasts being produced by sister network ESPN, who took over the rights to the package beginning in 2001. However, ABC Family still airs The 700 Club every weekday (as the brand "Family" remains owned by CBN), with subsequent repeats at 11 p.m. ET, as a condition of the sale to Disney. The network now runs movies aimed at various audiences ranging from families to adults, sitcoms from the 1990s and 2000s, original drama and comedy series primarily aimed at teenagers and young adults.
- Family Channel (similar Canadian service unrelated to ABC Family or its predecessors).
- ABC Spark (a Canadian service that is based on ABC Family).
- "Family Channel Strays from Religion, Embraces Clean Fun", Albany Times Union, January 6, 1991. Retrieved February 27, 2011 from HighBeam Research.
- Stern, Christopher. "Game Channel gears up for launch", Broadcasting & Cable, May 17, 1993. Retrieved February 28, 2011 from HighBeam Research.
- Brown, Rich. "Family plans health channel", Broadcasting & Cable, August 23, 1993. Retrieved February 28, 2011 from HighBeam Research.
- Wagner, Lon (June 12, 1997). "News Corp. to buy IFE for $1.9 billion; Robertsons make a network deal parent of Family Channel to be bought for $1.9 billion". The Virginian-Pilot. Archived from the original on July 19, 1997. Retrieved February 25, 2011.
- "Fox Family Worldwide Inc". Saban. Retrieved 2009-06-14.
- Katz, Richard (July 10, 1998). "Fox Family squeezes 'Club' in youthful sked". Variety. Retrieved 2009-08-13.
- Find Articles
- Bernstein, Paula (Aug. 15, 2000). "Fox Family pulls Girlz, Boyz diginets". Variety. Retrieved 2009-08-13.
- Reynolds, Mike. "Fox Family Unveils Adult-targeted Programming", Cable World, May 1, 2000. Retrieved February 25, 2011 from HighBeam Research.
- Higgins, John M., "Little relief at Fox Family", Broadcasting & Cable, December 6, 1999. Retrieved February 25, 2011 from HighBeam Research.
- http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb5053/is_200111/ai_n18363706. Missing or empty
- "News Corp. and Haim Saban Reach Agreement to Sell Fox Family Worldwide to Disney for $5.3 Billion". Saban. July 23, 2001. Retrieved 2009-02-19.
- "Haim Saban". Saban. Retrieved 2009-02-19.
- DiOrio, Carl (Oct. 24, 2001). "Fox Family costs Mouse less cheese in final deal". Variety. Retrieved 2009-08-13.
- "Disney Buys Virginia Beach, Va.-Based Family Channel from Fox", Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News, July 24, 2001. Retrieved February 25, 2011 from HighBeam Research.
- Family Channel takes on Fox look
- Disney buying Fox Family Channel
- Disney refocusing Family channel
- Fox Family Channel at the Internet Movie Database
- Fox Family Films at the Internet Movie Database
- Fox Television Network at the Internet Movie Database
- The Family Channel at the Internet Movie Database