In January 2016 the television channel ABC Family will be re-branded as Freeform, according to network president Tom Ascheim.
The Boston Herald reports that the relaunch will occur during the channel’s popular annual “25 Days of Christmas”, and winter premiers. The re-branding is part of an effort to help evolve the network from a family channel, into a channel for its target market. The channel calls its target market “Becomers”, which are those between the ages of 14 and 34.
The concept was introduced by ABC Family executives at the Upfront presentation. It is part of a continued effort to keep up with aging Millennials. “The most important question that young people ask themselves as they’re going from high school to their thirties is, ‘Who am I becoming?’ So we call the life stage ‘becoming’ and the people going through it Becomers,” Ascheim explains.
Ascheim says that the change was a long time coming, starting at least 10 years ago, when the network became focused on Millennials. They readjusted over time, as the oldest Millennials approach forty.
The re-branding is also an effort to reach viewers who may associate the channel with “family-friendly” and “wholesome” content. The company aims to no longer be restricted by the name. They hope that Freeform better suits the audience.
The network president put particular emphasis on the fact that the programming would not be changing along with the name. There is a current commitment to doubling the amount of programming for the channel.
This is not the first time the channel has been renamed. It went through several name changes when owned by evanglelist Pat Robertson. It was called The Family Channel until it was owned by News Corp. and Saban Entertainment, who called it Fox Family Channel. Disney bought it in 1991, and gave it the ABC Family name.