Sunday, October 18, 2015

ABC Family or Freeform?

When you think of ABC Family, what comes to mind? For me, I think of the iconic tween years that I spent in front of my TV, hooked on shows that taught me way too much about life. 7th Heaven, Friday Night Lights, Gilmore Girls, That 70’s Show, and so many more shows that take me right back to such great memories. Lorelai and Rory Gilmore brought me endless giggles and quite possibly helped out my sense of humor. The Camden family taught me about how family, however crazy, is a blessing. That 70’s show taught me what not to wear. Friday Night Lights made me cherish the high school days and wish that I knew someone as wise as Tami Taylor. Who could forget about 25 days of Christmas that allow us to relive our favorite Christmas movies? And the month of October where the Halloweentown movies are played on repeat just about every night. Thanks for the memories ABC Family.

A fun fact about ABC Family is that it is owned by Disney Channel and is often seen by producers as the “next step” for viewers of Disney Channel. Although, I am not sure how well this next step works out for their viewers, because I still secretly watch Disney Channel shows. No shame.

Disney announced a few weeks ago that they would be changing the name of ABC Family to Freeform as it undergoes a “radical rebranding as it stops chasing millennials and pushes toward even younger viewers it calls ‘becomers’”. This generation of becomers is described by Disney Channel’s president as “a life stage from your first kiss to your first kid” aka “people roughly 14 to 34”. The name change will take effect starting in January. Freeform “reflects the fluid way that teenagers and young adults consume media”. Check out this video and see for yourself. 

Here is a glimpse into the social media reaction 

I can't help but be a little bit critical of the name change. ABC Family is iconic and it has some incredible shows attached to its name. It has been ABC Family for so long. When I hear the name ABC Family it brings back feelings of nostalgia and some great memories. However, from a marketing standpoint, it could be a smart move. What it really boils down to is advertising spending and reach. Marketers and advertisers are struggling to figure out how to respond to this shift from live television watching to online TV and other mediums, which the millennials and younger generations have grown to be fond of. We are no longer subjected to that dreaded 5 minute commercial break in between shows because we can have a 30 second commercial break by watching it on Hulu the next day. It proves an interesting challenge for marketers and the next few years will be telling as new mediums for watching television arise.  


  1. I really enjoyed reading your post and it made me sad because I did not know about this name change. I do agree with you that ABC Family is such a big part of our generation and we have grown up watching ABC Family. It will take a while to rebrand it, however, I do like how the CEO said they want to be you on your first kiss to your first kid. It proves that more than one age group can watch the show. Just last year I re-watched all of Gilmore Girls, proving that maybe I'm not too old for it!

  2. Like Catherine said, this is a really weird and sad change for our generation. When I hear ABC family i think of endless Americas Funniest Videos and Harry Potter marathons. Even though I rarely watch the channel, I still feel like I have a strong emotional attachment to it. They have more than likely done the research and have seen their viewership decrease, so this move could be very beneficial for their business. I'm interested to see how well this new network is received by this large target demographic, as we are part of it. I feel like there are large differences in the preferences of 14 year olds and 34 year olds, but who knows

  3. Wow, I feel like my childhood is being flipped, turned upside down. I agree with Kegan, 14-34 is possibly the widest range of interests you could find. I am interested to see how this change affects their core consumers. If you look at the transition from Boy Meets World to Girl Meets World, there is a significant shift in content that does not appeal to any millennials or older. I guess we'll have to wait and see!

  4. This is the first Ive heard of this and Im really disapointed. I feel like ABC family has had such impact on the 14-34 year old market already so this major name change might hurt them more than help them. Plus Freeform sounds like a new social networking site.

  5. To me, ABC Family's name change is risky, but I can also see why they are doing it. While Freeform may not be my top name choice for the network, the ABC Family name connotes a family-friendly environment and some of their current television shows are definitely not appropriate for younger viewers. I think their new strategy should be targeting the teen/tween generation as opposed to the current wide age range they mentioned. One thing is for sure, it will take a long time for this name to become permanent.