ABC Family

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the U.S. broadcast television network currently using ABC Family's former 1990-1998 name, see The Family Channel (US TV network).
ABC Family
ABC Family logo.svg
Launched April 29, 1977 (1977-04-29)
(original launch; as CBN Satellite Service)
August 1, 1988 (1988-08-01)
(relaunch; as The CBN Family Channel)
September 15, 1990 (1990-09-15)
(renamed as The Family Channel)
August 14, 1998 (1998-08-14)
(relaunch; as Fox Family Channel)
November 10, 2001 (2001-11-10)
(relaunch; as ABC Family)
Owned by ABC Family Worldwide
(Disney–ABC Television Group/The Walt Disney Company)
Picture format 720p (HDTV)
(HD feed downgraded to either center cut or letterboxed 480i for SDTVs, depending on the programming)
Slogan A New Kind of Family
Country United States
Language English
Broadcast area Nationwide
Headquarters Burbank, California
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 Channel (1998–2001)
Replaced Fox Family Channel
Sister channel(s) Disney Channel,
Disney Junior,
Disney XD,
Disney Cinemagic, ABC, Fusion,
Timeshift service ABC Family East
ABC Family West
DirecTV 311 (HD/SD)
1311 (VOD)
Dish Network 180 (HD/SD)
Available on most U.S. cable systems Consult your local cable provider or program listings source for channel availability
AT&T U-verse 178 (SD)
1178 (HD)
Verizon FiOS 199 (SD)
699 (HD)
Southern Fibernet 207 (SD)
1207 (HD)
Streaming media
(U.S. cable internet subscribers only; requires login from pay television provider to access content)
Sling TV Internet Protocol television

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 ages 14 to 34; 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 a family-focused entertainment network as The Family Channel by 1990. In 1998, it was sold to Fox Kids Worldwide Inc. and renamed Fox Family.[1][2] 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.[3][4] On October 6, 2015, Disney–ABC Television Group announced that the network would be rebranded as Freeform on January 1, 2016.[5][6]

As of February 2015, ABC Family is available to approximately 94,406,000 pay television households (81.1% of households with at least one television set) in the United States.[7]


Early history (1977–1998)[edit]

The channel traces its origins to the launch of the CBN Satellite Service, an arm of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), on April 29, 1977. Focusing 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 on September 1, 1981, by which point, its carriage grew to one million homes with a cable television subscription. 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 Christian Broadcasting Network banner without endangering the ministry'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[8]); the channel's name was subsequently 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 programs aired at preschool children, pre-teens, and teenagers to target all members of the family.[9] During this time, from 1994 to 1997, The Family Channel sponsored NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Ted Musgrave in the #16 Ford Thunderbird for Roush Racing.[10][11][12][13]

Fox Family (1998–2001)[edit]

In 1997, International Family Entertainment put The Family Channel up for sale. News Corporation entered into discussions to purchase a stake in the channel with IFE 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.[14] On June 12 of that year, International Family Entertainment was purchased by Fox Kids Worldwide Inc., a joint venture between News Corporation and Saban Entertainment, for $1.9 billion;[15] the subsidiary was renamed in turn to Fox Family Worldwide Inc. The Family Channel was officially renamed Fox Family Channel on August 15, 1998.[1][2] With the change in ownership, Fox Family's operations were also migrated from Virginia Beach, Virginia (where the Christian Broadcasting Network is headquartered) and integrated with the operations of some of News Corporation's other cable channels in Los Angeles.

Following the sale to Fox/Saban, airings of The 700 Club were scaled back to two per day (though the sale agreement required the channel to air it three times daily,[16] 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 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time (from 10:00 p.m.). More cartoons were added to the channel's lineup, many of which were from the Fox Kids program library (such as Bobby's World, Eek! The Cat and Life with Louie), 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 including Angela Anaconda, Big Wolf on Campus, Edgemont, I Was a Sixth Grade Alien, and briefly The Zack Files. The channel also aired 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, 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, when CBS pulled reruns of the series from its Saturday morning lineup following star 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.[17] 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).

In the Nielsen cable ratings, Fox Family ultimately saw its overall viewership slide from 10th to 17th place 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 Saban Entertainment founder/CEO Haim Saban. Some observers believe that the decision to remove all of the older programming, especially western reruns (which made up the bulk of The Family Channel's weekday and weekend schedule), without notice chased away older viewers without any plan to retain the core audience among them that the network wanted to retain. 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)[edit]

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.[3][4][18][19]

The channel's sale to Disney was considered one of the biggest mistakes or problems made during the latter tenure of company president Michael Eisner.[20] 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.[21] 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).[22]

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; this concept was never carried out for unknown reasons. The name was revisited at one point in 2003, for a program block titled "The XYZ.," which featured live-action series and movies aimed at the aforementioned groups. The network was also used as a buffer to burn off failed ABC series, such as the reality competition series All American Girl, which featured Spice Girl Geri Halliwell.

Robertson stipulated in his sale of the original Family Channel to its future line of secular owners that his syndicated talk show, The 700 Club, be aired twice daily on the network[16] (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 regarding homosexuals, feminists, Muslims, abortion and many other social issues,[23] ABC Family moved to distance itself from the program. On August 29, 2005, the channel changed the disclaimers that appear 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.[24]

ABC Family today (2006–present)[edit]

In August 2006, ABC Family introduced a new slogan ("A New Kind of Family") and visual style, with a custom typeface based on that used in the ABC logo as part of the motif. On August 31 of that year, ABC Family discontinued Jetix, an action-oriented morning children's block that debuted on the network in 2002, as a part of a plan by Disney to convert all Jetix telecasts to Toon Disney. Sitcom repeats currently air in Jetix's former timeslot from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time, with the morning airing of the 700 Club/Living the Life block being pushed back a half-hour further to 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time[25] and sitcom reruns airing during the 9:00 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, only a limited amount 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, as well as select past original series – such as Lizzie McGuire – that aired on its late-night schedule in November 2014; 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).[26]

In 2007, the fantasy drama Kyle XY earned 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 by Switched at Birth, which premiered to an audience of 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 prime time 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.[27] On June 8, 2010, the debut of the original drama series Pretty Little Liars (based on the series of young adult mystery novels by Sara Shepard), successfully broke series premiere ratings records for ABC Family, across all major viewing demographics of women and young people.

Pending rebrand as Freeform[edit]

In a December 3, 2014 article in Variety, reports suggested that ABC Family executives were proposing a reboot of the network that would occur in 2015 at the earliest, which included a renaming of the channel, a redesigned graphics package (replacing the one in use since 2006) or an expansion of programming that appeals more toward a millennial-skewing audience – as opposed to families or teenagers – among the options.[28] During the channel's 2015–16 upfront presentation on April 14, 2015, ABC Family executives announced that it would establish a focus on teenagers and young adults between the ages of 14 and 34 – a group representatives termed "becomers", instead of the standard "millennials".[29]

On October 6, 2015, Disney–ABC Television Group announced that ABC Family would change its name to Freeform on January 1, 2016, with the rebrand – which kicked off with an extensive branding campaign launched on that date of the announcement and will encompass the network's popular "13 Nights of Halloween" and 25 Days of Christmas" blocks – coinciding with the winter premieres of the network's new and existing original series. Public assumption was that such a name change would be negotiably impossible due to an alleged stipulation enforced by CBN in sale agreements since the initial acquisition by International Family Entertainment that the channel contain the word "Family" in the name permanently, regardless as to who owns the network (as proven by the failed relaunch as XYZ); in the name change announcement, network president Tom Ascheim never made reference to the "Family" brand clause supposedly contained within the sale agreement, leaving it unclear as to whether or not the clause actually existed.[5][6][30]

The name change – which was chosen among 3,000 proposals, with some initial consideration of retaining the "ABC" name – was necessitated due to audience testing sampling regular viewers of the channel and those who watched ABC Family on an infrequent basis, which revealed that although regular viewers understood the network's youth-skewing concept, non-viewers perceived the channel as being more family-oriented. The channel plans to double the amount of original programming on its schedule through 2020; however, despite firmly focusing on its specified target audience, Freeform will also continue to carry much of the existing programming under the ABC Family brand including family-oriented series and feature films, the 25 Days of Christmas and 13 Days of Halloween blocks, and its weekday airings of The 700 Club.[31][32][33]


Outside of primetime, ABC Family currently offers a slate of mostly reruns of contemporary comedy and drama series, such as Reba, The Middle, Last Man Standing and 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), 8 Simple Rules (which ran from 2007 to 2014) 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 (as of September 2015) currently include shows such as Pretty Little Liars, The Fosters, Switched at Birth, Stitchers, Kevin from Work, Young & Hungry and Baby Daddy. Until the debuts of Melissa & Joey (which ran from 2010 to 2015), and Baby Daddy (which bowed 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 Wednesdays. The channel airs first-run episodes of its original series 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 hiatus of four to six months. 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 7:00 and 10:00 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, David Jeremiah and Zola Levitt; aside from the 700 Club and 700 Club Interactive airings, most of the religious programs carried by ABC Family generally air weekdays between 5:00 to 7:00 a.m., and Sundays from 5:30 to 7:00 and 12:00 to 1:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

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 2:00 to 7:00 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and 12:00 to 7:00 a.m. on Sundays (all times Eastern). The paid programming time includes the aforementioned religious programs, whose time slots were paid for by the ministries which produce the programs.


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 7:00 a.m. (sometimes later, such as around 7:30 or 8:00 a.m.) to as late as 2:00 a.m. Eastern Time on Saturdays and 12:00 a.m. Eastern on Sundays. Movies airing on the channel are targeted at various audiences – from pre-teens, to families, to teenagers 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 21st Century Fox, which was created through the split of the channel's former parent company News Corporation in 2013) and Warner Bros. Entertainment.

ABC Family has also purchased the cable television rights to many film series, such as the Harry Potter 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 in 1996 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. ABC Family's airing of The Hunger Games on October 10, 2014 was one of the channel's most watched telecasts for a single film, being seen by nearly 1.9 million viewers.

ABC Family is also becoming known for airing previews of upcoming movies, as it has done for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Hairspray and Stardust.[34]


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 cable television 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 MLB season, but the playoff games remained on ABC Family for one additional year due to contractual issues. A deal was later struck 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.

Programming blocks[edit]

Current programming blocks[edit]

  • Funday – Launched in 2014, "Funday" is the network's block of feature films on Sundays (the running time of the block varies depending on the day's film schedule), with a principal focus on films aimed at teenagers, young adults and family audiences.

Seasonal programming blocks[edit]

  • 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 of 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 to 25th each year, and has existed since 1996 under ABC Family's previous brand as The Family Channel. The block has aired 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. The "25 Days of Christmas" also features special Christmas episodes of the channel's original series (with seven different shows airing Christmas specials in 2014, including "The Fosters", "Pretty Little Liars", "Chasing Life", "Baby Daddy", "Switched At Birth" and "Melissa and Joey").
  • 13 Nights of Halloween – The success of "25 Days of Christmas" led to this Halloween-themed 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 Hocus Pocus, The Sixth Sense, Corpse Bride, Scooby Doo and occasionally Stephen King's It and Nightworld: Lost Souls). The "13 Nights of Halloween" also features Halloween specials of the channel's original series (including Pretty Little Liars, which has had three Halloween-centered episodes during the drama's five-season run to date).
  • Summer Crush – Since 2010, ABC Family has aired a ten-day event featuring teen-oriented and romance films from July 29 to August 7 (scheduled during the final week of school-designated summer breaks in some locations). Originally known as "Campus Crush," the block was renamed "Summer Crush" in 2013. Movies featured in the lineup have included Prom, The Princess Diaries, The Last Song, So Undercover, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Hairspray, Legally Blonde and Billy Madison. During this period, ABC Family also airs special prom- or romance-themed episodes of its original series.
  • Spring Crush – In 2013, ABC Family debuted "Spring Crush," an Easter weekend offshoot of "Campus/Summer Crush," as a four-day event from April 18 to April 21 (Easter Sunday); it was expanded to five days in 2014 (running that year from April 16 to 20). The block features a mix of teen-oriented and prom-themed movies (such as Tangled, Hop, the Cinderella Story movie series, The Little Mermaid and Fame). In 2013, ABC Family debuted an original musical-comedy film, Lovestruck: The Musical, as part of this lineup.

Past programming blocks[edit]

  • 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 Toon Disney launched its own action-oriented block of the same name. Of its long list of programs, the Power Rangers series was its most successful.[35] ABC Family's Jetix block was discontinued in September 2006, at the same time the companion Toon Disney block was expanded (taking over more than half of that channel's schedule); sitcom repeats currently air on ABC Family in Jetix's former timeslot from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time. Most of Jetix's programming had previously aired on Fox Kids and Fox Family. The Jetix brand remained in use by Toon Disney until that channel was relaunched as Disney XD on February 13, 2009, effectively discontinuing the Jetix brand in the United States outright.
  • The Positive Place – Running from 1991 to 1994 as The Family Channel, "The Positive Place" was a weekly block that aired Sunday early-evenings (from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time) featuring first-run episodes and reruns of original and acquired programs (including Rin Tin Tin: K-9 Cop, Maniac Mansion, Big Brother Jake and Zorro).

Related services[edit]

Service Description
Abc family hd.png

ABC Family HD
ABC Family HD is a high definition simulcast feed of ABC Family that broadcasts in the 720p format (the preferred HD resolution for The Walt Disney Company's television properties); it was launched in early 2008.[36] All of the network's original series and made-for-TV films, and many of its acquired programs are currently produced in high definition, which are presented in a letterboxed format on the standard definition 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 Xfinity, Time Warner Cable,[37] Cox Communications,[38] Cable One, Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-verse, Charter Communications, DirecTV[39] 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. It was launched on January 7, 2014, replacing the original ABC Family app on mobile devices.[40] Individual episodes of the channel's series, along with additional content such as behind-the-scenes features are also available. Episodes of the network's series are also available through Hulu, which also requires a television provider login to access episode content (prior to the app's relaunch, no restrictions based on a user's subscription to a pay television service were placed on the streaming of ABC Family's original programs via the channel's website or through Hulu, which is part-owned by network parent The Walt Disney Company).[41]

International versions[edit]

Relationship with Family Channel (Canada)[edit]

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 (owned by Toronto-based production company DHX Media) has occasionally led to the presumption that the two channels are affiliated. Family Channel and ABC Family both have had a significant connection to The Walt Disney Company (Disney owns ABC Family outright; Family Channel has primarily acquired its foreign programming from ABC Family sister networks Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD, a relationship that will end in January 2016, following a four-month transition period in which programming owned by the Disney Channels Worldwide U.S. networks will become exclusive to the Corus Entertainment-owned Canadian version of Disney Channel, which launched on September 1, 2015).[42] 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.

The Canadian channel's original owners, Allarcom and First Choice, had first proposed using the "Family Channel" name in 1987.[43] The American channel did not adopt the "CBN Family Channel" name until August 1988 (one month before Canada's Family Channel debuted), 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 1988–1998 "Paint and Sun" logo 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 Canadian Family Channel's original logo). Ironically enough, due to Disney Channel's longtime programming agreement with the Canadian service, Family Channel has long been often thought of as a de facto Canadian version of Disney Channel.

ABC Spark (Canada)[edit]

Main article: ABC Spark

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.[44] 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 of age.[45] The ABC Spark name was purposefully chosen to avoid viewer confusion and/or legal issues with the unrelated Family Channel. With the announcement that ABC Family would rebrand as Freeform, it is unknown whether Corus Entertainment will license the new name and branding to be implemented on the U.S. channel for the Canadian service. ABC Spark is available on many Canadian cable and satellite providers including Cogeco, Rogers Cable, Bell TV, Shaw Cable and Telus.

The Family Channel/Challenge (U.K.)[edit]

In 1993, International Family Entertainment, in partnership with Flextech, launched an international version of The Family Channel in the United Kingdom,[46][47] featuring a mix of original family-oriented programming, reruns of American series and programming from the MTM Enterprises/TVS library. In April 1996, International Family Entertainment sold its 61% controlling interest to Flextech,[48] giving that company full control of the channel.[49] The channel was relaunched on February 3, 1997 as Challenge TV, an outgrowth of the U.K. Family Channel's weekend block of game shows that launched in October 1996 under the brand "Family Challenge Weekend".


With the 2006 introduction of new shows to the network by Disney, many parents have reacted negatively to ABC Family's programming, feeling that the network has gone from family friendly to "too risqué," and that content in shows like Greek, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, The Fosters and Becoming Us is far too racy for family viewing. Critics feel that ABC Family executives are only after attracting viewers, without concern about showing young people in questionable scenarios in its series and films. Mostly, the main focus of the criticism is on teenage pregnancy, underage drinking and LGBT-related issues.[50] It should be noted that 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 more so since being purchased by The Walt Disney Company as it chose to refocus the channel more towards a teen and young adult audience to reduce programming redundancy with its existing family-oriented cable network Disney Channel.

The persistent insistence was though that the channel was contractually required to keep the word "Family" in its name (a situation that would have required any of its succeeding owners to negotiate out of such a clause or create an entirely new network over Fox/ABC Family's channel space, effectively cancelling all of the channel's existing carriage contracts, without any obligation by cable and satellite providers to put the replacement service in the channel slot vacated by Fox Family); in fact, it is the perception based on its name alone in audience testing conducted by the network that revealed some infrequent viewers thought the channel was aimed specifically at families was what resulted in Disney–ABC's decision to rebrand ABC Family as Freeform, with network president Ascheim refuting the longstanding claim regarding the inclusion of "Family" in the name as an urban legend in announcing the rebrand as Robertson never included such a contractual clause.[31][32][33]

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, Pretty Little Liars, Twisted and The Fosters.

Network slogans[edit]

  • "Stay with Us, We're CBN" (1977–1985; as CBN Satellite Service and CBN Cable Network)[51]
  • "Just Watch Us" (1985–1988; as CBN Cable Network)[52]
  • "Families are Moving to CBN" (1986; as CBN Cable Network; used concurrently with "Just Watch Us")[53]
  • "Together, We're Family" (1988–1991; as The CBN Family Channel and The Family Channel)[54]
  • "The Greatest in the Family" (1991–1995; as The Family Channel)
  • "There's Nothing Stronger" (1995–1996)[55]
  • "Just Watch Us Now" (1996–1998)[56]
  • "You Belong" (1998–2000; as Fox Family)
  • "It's Electric" (2000–2001)
  • "It's All About You!" (2001–2003; as ABC Family)
  • "Everything You Want to Know from A to Z" (2003–2006)
  • "A New Kind of Family" (2006–2014)


  1. ^ a b "Fox Family Worldwide Inc". Saban Entertainment. Retrieved June 14, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b Richard Katz (July 10, 1998). "Fox Family squeezes 'Club' in youthful sked". Variety (Cahners Business Information). Retrieved August 13, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b "News Corp. and Haim Saban Reach Agreement to Sell Fox Family Worldwide to Disney for $5.3 Billion". Saban Entertainment. July 23, 2001. Archived from the original on February 2, 2009. Retrieved February 19, 2009. 
  4. ^ a b Carl DiOrio (October 24, 2001). "Fox Family costs Mouse less cheese in final deal". Variety (Reed Business Information). Retrieved August 13, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b Elizabeth Wagmeister (October 6, 2015). "ABC Family to Rebrand Network ‘Freeform’ in January". Variety (Penske Media Corporation). Retrieved October 6, 2015. 
  6. ^ a b David Bauder (October 6, 2015). "ABC Family Changing Name To Freeform". TVNewsCheck. NewsCheck Media. Associated Press. Retrieved October 6, 2015. 
  7. ^ Robert Seidman (February 22, 2015). "List of how many homes each cable network is in as of February 2015". TV by the Numbers. Zap2It (Tribune Digital Ventures). Retrieved February 24, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Interview with Pat Robertson". Archive of American Television. October 15, 2003. 
  9. ^ "The Family Channel history". Google. 
  10. ^ "Ted Musgrave Driver Information - 1994". 
  11. ^ "Ted Musgrave Driver Information - 1995". 
  12. ^ "Ted Musgrave Driver Information - 1996". 
  13. ^ "Ted Musgrave Driver Information - 1997". 
  14. ^ Connie Bruck (May 10, 2010). "The Influencer". The New Yorker. Condé Nast. 
  15. ^ Lon Wagner (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. Landmark Communications. Archived from the original on July 19, 1997. Retrieved February 25, 2011. 
  16. ^ a b Bill Carter (July 30, 2001). "On Television; TV Works in Mysterious Ways for Pat Robertson". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). 
  17. ^ Paula Bernstein (August 15, 2000). "Fox Family pulls Girlz, Boyz diginets". Variety (Reed Business Information). Retrieved August 13, 2009. 
  18. ^ "Haim Saban". Saban Entertainment. Archived from the original on March 2, 2009. Retrieved February 19, 2009. 
  19. ^ Jeff Bercovici (July 23, 2001). "Disney buying Fox Family Channel". Media Life Magazine. 
  20. ^ "Top 10 Misbegotten Media Mergers of the Decade - 10. Disney buys Fox Family". December 22, 2009. 
  21. ^ Ruth Suehle (October 10, 2012). "6 TV Networks That Aren’t What They Started Out to Be". Wired (Condé Nast). 
  22. ^ Gary Levin (December 3, 2001). "Disney refocusing Family channel". USA Today (Gannett Company). 
  23. ^ "ABC Family Channel condemns Robertson but has to keep him". ShowBizData. August 24, 2005. 
  24. ^ Rob Owen (July 12, 2006). "Tuned In: Original shows help ABC Family improve". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Block Communications). 
  25. ^ Anne Becker (February 16, 2006). "Disney announces new shows, kid block leaves ABC Family". Broadcasting & Cable (Reed Business Information) – via XYWE. [dead link]
  26. ^ "". ABC Family. Disney–ABC Television Group. March 4, 2008. 
  27. ^ "ABC Family Hits All-Time July Highs in Prime in Total Viewers and All Key Demos". TV by the Numbers (Press release). July 28, 2009. 
  28. ^ Brian Steinberg (December 3, 2014). "Disney’s ABC Family Cable Network Mulling Reboot". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved January 18, 2015. 
  29. ^ Lesley Goldberg (April 14, 2015). "ABC Family Plots Big Scripted Music Push as Focus Shifts to "Becomers"". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved October 6, 2015. 
  30. ^ Lesley Goldberg (October 6, 2015). "ABC Family Changing Its Name to Freeform". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. 
  31. ^ a b Nellie Andreeva (October 6, 2015). "ABC Family To Be Renamed As Freeform". Penske Media Corporation. 
  32. ^ a b Michael Schneider (October 6, 2015). "Disney's ABC Family to Rename Itself "Freeform" This January". OpenGate Capital. Retrieved October 6, 2015. 
  33. ^ a b Daniel Holloway (October 6, 2015). "Inside ABC Family's Dramatic Name-Change Decision". The Wrap (The Wrap News Inc.). Retrieved October 6, 2015. 
  34. ^ "Harry Potter Triple-Feature Weekend on ABC Family Includes OotP Sneak Peeks". The Leaky Cauldron. July 7, 2007. 
  35. ^ Jetix US
  36. ^ Glen Dickson (March 13, 2007). "Disney To Launch HD Networks on DirecTV". Broadcasting & Cable (Reed Business Information). 
  37. ^ "Time Warner Cable offers Disney Channel, ABC Family in high-def TV". San Antonio Business Journal (American City Business Journals). June 12, 2008. 
  38. ^ Jeffrey Nukom (June 19, 2009). "Cox launches Disney Channel HD and ABC Family HD". HDReport (LinksThat). 
  39. ^ "HD Channels". DirecTV. 
  40. ^ "Disney To Expand Authenticated Streaming To ABC Family Shows". (Penske Media Corporation). January 5, 2014. 
  41. ^ George Winslow (January 3, 2014). "Disney/ABC To Launch Watch ABC Family App". Broadcasting & Cable (NewBay Media). 
  42. ^ "Corus Entertainment and Disney/ABC Television Group Join Forces in Landmark Licensing Agreement" (Press release). Corus Entertainment. Canada Newswire. April 16, 2015. Retrieved April 17, 2015. 
  43. ^ "Decision CRTC 87-905". Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. December 1, 1987. 
  44. ^ "New Millennial Focused Channel, ABC Spark, to Launch in Canada" (Press release). Disney–ABC Television Group. October 26, 2011 – via The Futon Critic. 
  45. ^ Jennie Punter (October 26, 2011). "ABC Spark launches in Canada". Variety (Penske Media Corporation). 
  46. ^ "UK media group Flextech. (invests in UK Family Channel) (Brief Article)". Broadcasting & Cable (Cahners Business Information). June 7, 1993. Retrieved January 18, 2015 – via HighBeam Research. 
  47. ^ "Robertson wins TVS". The Times. January 23, 1993. 
  48. ^ "Buy-up strategy covers all exits". Marketing Week. Centaur Communications. April 5, 1996. Retrieved January 18, 2015. 
  49. ^ "International Family Entertainment Agrees To Consolidate The Family Channel Uk Into Flextech Plc.". Business Wire. March 20, 1996. Retrieved January 18, 2015 – via The Free Library. 
  50. ^ Amelia Atlas (February 1, 2009). "Teen Sex on ABC Family Sparks Debate". Newser (Newser, LLC). 
  51. ^ CBN Cable ID, 1984 on YouTube
  52. ^ CBN--TV Aircheck From The Mid 1980's on YouTube
  53. ^ Go Close / CBN Promos - February 1986 on YouTube
  54. ^ CBN Family Channel (now ABC Family) Sign-Off from Summer on YouTube
  55. ^ Father's Day 1995 Family Channel Commercials on YouTube
  56. ^ 1996 Family Channel promos on YouTube

External links[edit]