At the start of next year, the vaguely-popular cable network “ABC Family” will be no more.
Well, sort of. In actuality, the network is re-branding under the name “Freeform”. The rebrand is aimed at focusing in on the demographic the network has been going after for the past decade: adolescents, especially adolescent girls.
The “Family” designation attached to the channel has been long outdated. It existed as a relic from the origins of the network; founded by televangelist (and crazy person) Pat Robertson, the network was originally titled CBN Cable, then CBN Family Channel, later simplified to The Family Channel. It catered to religious audiences, obviously. Turns out advertisers don’t flock toward channels like this, so Robertson’s son’s company would eventually put it up for sale.
The channel was bought by FOX and aside from the archaic forced showings of Robertson’s “700 Club” at night, all religious pretense was stripped from the network. It would then go on to be bought by ABC, which similarly formed it in its own vision independent of any religious affiliation. Rumors even spread of a pending name change to “XYZ”, but further rumors claimed Robertson’s iron-clad contract mandated the presence of the word “Family” in the channel’s title.
As it turns out, no such mandate seems to have existed. And as such, ABC has finally chosen to rebrand the network. The choice of “Freeform” as the name rather than XYZ or, really, any other option is questionable, but it’s understandable why they would choose to rebrand. It does seem that Robertson did make one mandate, however, as “700 Club” will unfortunately continue to be broadcasted on the rebranded network.
It remains to be seen whether the rebrand pays off for “Freeform”, but it is at the very least nice to see them move on from the past.