ABC Spark logo
|Launched||March 23, 2012|
|Owned by||Corus Entertainment
(branding licensed from The Walt Disney Company)
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)
|Slogan||Life Just Got Brighter|
French (via SAP)
|Bell TV||Channel 560 (SD)
Channel 1650 (HD)
|Shaw Direct||Channel 188 / 537 (SD)
Channel 73 / 573 (HD)
|Available on many Canadian cable systems||Check local listings, channels may vary|
|Bell Aliant||Channel 261 (SD)
Channel 508 (HD)
|Bell Fibe TV||Channel 564 (SD)
Channel 1564 (HD)
|MTS||Channel 42 (SD)
Channel 44 (HD)
|Sasktel||Channel 139 (SD)|
|Optik TV||Channel 9327 (SD)
Channel 327 (HD)
|VMedia||Channel 58 (HD)|
|Zazeen||Channel 135 (HD)|
ABC Spark is a Canadian English language Category B digital cable and satellite television specialty channel that is owned by Corus Entertainment. The channel is based on the U.S. cable network Freeform (previously known as ABC Family), and focuses on programming primarily aimed at teenagers and preteens with additional general interest family programming. Its name is licensed from the Disney–ABC Television Group, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company.
The announcement of the formation of ABC Spark occurred on October 26, 2011 as part of a program licensing agreement between Corus Entertainment and The Walt Disney Company. The use of the name "ABC Spark", as opposed to "ABC Family", is presumably to avoid any confusion with Family Channel, which at the time aired programming from ABC Family's sibling, Disney Channel. The channel's broadcast licence, tentatively known then as Harmony, was approved by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in February 2012.
Prior to the announcement of the channel's launch, original programming from ABC Family had been airing in Canada on other specialty channels, including the Bell Media-owned MuchMusic. Selected ABC Family programs that were set to air on ABC Spark began airing in special sneak preview blocks in advance of the network's launch starting on January 16, 2012 on Corus-owned sister channels YTV, W Network, and CMT Canada. The channel was owned by Corus (51%) and Shaw Media (49%) at launch on Monday, March 26, 2012.
Shortly after the channel's launch, the CRTC published notice of a pending application to transfer the ABC Spark license to the numbered company which previously owned Dusk, which is 51% owned by Corus and 49% owned by Shaw Media. However, on March 4, 2013, Corus Entertainment announced that it would acquire Shaw Media's 49% ownership interest in ABC Spark, in a larger transaction that would see Corus also acquire Shaw's 50% interest in Historia and Séries+, while Corus would sell their 22.58% stake in Food Network. In total, Shaw would receive net proceeds of approximately $95 million in cash. The sale of the portion of ABC Spark closed in April 2013.
In October 2015, ABC Family announced plans to change its name to "Freeform" in January 2016. It remains unconfirmed whether or not ABC Spark will follow suit, but around the same time, the channel announced its first original series, Cheer Stars, to premiere in 2016.
Programming on ABC Spark includes Freeform original comedies (Baby Daddy and Melissa & Joey) and dramas (Switched at Birth and The Fosters). Much of the channel's schedule consists of syndicated third-party programs, and original series from other Corus-owned channels. The channel also holds its own versions of the 25 Days of Christmas and 13 Nights of Halloween events, which lead up to their respective holidays with special programming and films.
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- "Press Release - Corus Entertainment Receives CRTC Approval on TELETOON Canada Inc., Historia and Séries+ Acquisitions". Corusent.com. Retrieved 2013-12-22.
- ABC partners with Corus to launch youth network in Canada Los Angeles Times 2011-10-26
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- Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2012-93 CRTC 2012-02-14
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- Lesley Goldberg (October 6, 2015). "ABC Family Changing Its Name to Freeform". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media.
- Alessi, Sara (October 30, 2015). "Production Begins on ABC Spark’s First Original Series". World Screen (WSN INC.). Retrieved November 2, 2015.