Perhaps reasoning -- reasonably enough -- that The Pretty Little Liars Channel didn't work, ABC Family will instead change its name to Freeform in January, the network just announced.
What's "freeform," besides a style of jazz?
Per Tom Ascheim, the network's CEO, in speaking to the AP about this curious appellation re-configuration:More coverageMore TV show reviewsMORE FROM OUR CRITICVerne Gay's latest
"The changeover takes place on Jan. 1. The company tested several different names but felt Freeform would describe and appeal to the audience it is seeking, young people heading out into the world and experiencing their first jobs and first loves," he said.
When in doubt, look at the numbers, and they probably are not where the channel or Disney would like them to be: Per the AP, the average primetime audience is now under a million, versus being well over a million five years ago...
Indeed, ABC is obviously chasing the demo -- everyone does that -- and this particular demo (12-24) wouldn't be caught dead watching a "family" channel; sadly, the term is poison to teens who envision something treacley or gross, or worse: They envision Mom and Dad sitting in front of the TV with them.
So goodbye Family, hello whatever that new name is...
ABC Family, which will apparently remain the same in all other particulars, is part of cable history, you may not realize: It was originally Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcast Network, one of the early cable networks, founded in 1977, which later became CBN, and later to just plain ol' Family. It sold and resold a few times like a pound of alewives... with a name change each time, although "Family" usually stuck.
Fox owned it, then ABC and Disney, which indeed have found success with shows like "Pretty Little Liars" and "The Fosters."
In any event, consider this the end of an era -- the Family era.
By the way, networks change their names periodically, usually resulting in derision (via Twitter), then acceptance. There was -- seriously -- an uproar among fans/viewers when Scifi went to Syfy. There'd probably be an uproar now if it switched back.
ABC Family will dramatically increase original programming under the new name.
Meanwhile, please check back here later to find out what "Freeform" means.