Why is ABC Family becoming Freeform

Get ready to pour one out for ABC Family. The name is retiring on Tuesday, Jan. 12, to be replaced with “Freeform.” If viewers have been wondering why the name change for the network that houses “Pretty Little Liars,” “The Fosters” and “Switched at Birth,” Freeform president Tom Ascheim has the answers.

Basically, it’s because TV users who do not watch ABC Family were mistakenly thinking of the channel as “family-friendly” and “wholesome.”

“New users and viewers have a startling different sense of us,” Ascheim tells the 2016 TCA winter press tour. “They just know our name, perhaps they know a little bit about our reputation. And we over-index with them in only two attributes and they are: family-friendly and wholesome. And who doesn’t want to be family-friendly and wholesome? We’re delighted to be family-friendly and wholesome, but it’s kind of specific and not particularly representative of who we are.”

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Ascheim goes on to say that the network wants to “close that gap” between the “users and non-users.”

“We want to find a name that evokes that audience and we think Freeform is it,” says Ascheim. “We found a name that we really love that did really well in research.”

Finally, Ashceim says that Freeform evokes three things: the audience of Becomers, an age Freeform calls “between your first kiss and your first kid”; delivering on the promise of bringing content in the way a young audience expects; and a mood of “spontaneity, creativity” and “a place where the parties are better.”

“It’s a place I know I would like to spend a lot of time and I’m sure our audience is going to want to spend a lot of time too.”

Posted by:Andrea Reiher

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."