With shows ranging from “The Fosters,” featuring a lesbian couple raising their family, to “Greek,” which is littered with explicit sexual references and acts, party scenes, drunk students, and sometimes harsh language, it’s no wonder that viewers may’ve scratched their heads wondering why such shows were on a network called ABC Family.
Instead of ditching the shows clearly intended for a more mature audience, the network has instead opted to change its name entirely. Beginning in January 2016, Disney-owned ABC Family is turning into Freeform, a name that “reflects our ongoing priority to super-serve Becomers, fans on that epic new adventure of becoming an adult—from first kiss to first kid!” a statement reads.
“For us, this doesn’t feel like a radical departure, this is an evolution,” ABC Family president Tom Ascheim told Entertainment Weekly. “For the last 10-to-12 years, we’ve been targeting young people, Millennials, and then something happened. Millennials started getting older. The oldest ones are nearly 40. So do we follow Millennials or stay with the ‘life stage’ that got us here?”
The name was chosen after being tested in a focus group this past year. ABC Family, it turned out, conjured up attributes like “family-friendly” and “wholesome” among non-viewers, Ascheim discovered through market research.
“There was a huge perception gap between the people who know us well and the people who don’t know us at all,” Ascheim told TV Insider. “That largely comes from our label, the name. That bit of data is the thing that finally convinced us that it was time, after a lot of thinking and pondering, to get this done.”