The new year will bring more than just resolutions, as it also marks the change of the ABC Family network into one called Freeform. This rebranding on the part of ABC has actually been a long time coming, and is part of the company’s efforts to attract a new demographic of viewers to replace those who are leaving due to age.
ABC Attracting Becomers
In making the announcement, ABC Family President Tom Ascheim claimed the company was trying to reach a group of people known as “becomers.” The “becomer” audience is generally considered to be those between the ages of 14 and 34 who are in the process of determining what they would like to “become” as they grow older. There is also some speculation that the network hopes to keep its millennial viewer base engaged as they mature and begin families of their own. At the present, this seems to be something that the ABC Family network is having a hard time doing.
Rebrand Away from Family
The change will also result in fewer “family friendly” programs on the newly-created Freeform network. The reason for doing this is actually quite ironic. It seems that non-viewers currently give ABC Family good reviews for wholesome programs, but poor marks for everything else. On the other hand, core viewers tend to give the network good reviews on everything except family friendliness. By changing up the programming somewhat, network executives are hoping to capture more new viewers, while at the same time catering to the dedicated fan base they already have.
Reasons for Name
There is actually quite a bit of significance behind the name “Freeform.” Ascheim claims that viewers of the network will be active participants rather than simply passive viewers. He also stated that their targeted audience is one that would appreciate being seen as “makers” rather than mere consumers. As such, the name is intended to make viewers feel as though they are involved personally, something that ABC as a whole is hoping will increase loyalty.
Although the change was only recently announced, it has actually been around ten to twelve years in the making. Executives at ABC have recently discovered that the first group of millennials who began watching ABC family during its early years are now approaching age 40. This means the network has no other choice but to rebrand itself in order to stay relevant. Even after the Freeform network has been officially launched, there are still other changes in the works, including the revision of the logo. It is likely that the rebranding process will continue for some time, as the network experiments with programming in order to find out what works.
The rebranding of ABC Family does not mean complete changes across the board. Several popular shows will remain even after the transfer, being gradually replaced with new ones as time goes on. Meanwhile, the rest of the ABC network will for now remain virtually unchanged during the coming year.