ABC Family is an American basic cable and satellite television channel that is owned by ABC Family Worldwide Inc., a subsidiary of the Disney-ABC Television Group division of The Walt Disney Company. The channel generally offers contemporary and family programming aimed at a wide audience, but primarily features series and movies aimed at teenage girls and young women (age 15-30); its programming includes off-network syndicated reruns and original series, feature films and made-for-TV original movies, and some religious programming. The network was founded in 1977 as an extension of televangelist Pat Robertson's Christian television ministry, and eventually evolved into The Family Channel by 1990. In 1998, it was sold to Fox Kids Worldwide Inc. and renamed Fox Family. On October 24, 2001, Fox Family Channel and Fox Family Worldwide were sold to The Walt Disney Company, in a sale that also included Saban Entertainment. Contents [show] History
Main article: Television networks preceding ABC Family Early history ABC Family launched on April 29, 1977, as the CBN Satellite Service, an arm of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). The name later changed to the CBN Cable Network in 1984 and its carriage grew to a million homes by that year. On August 1, 1988, the word "Family" was incorporated into the channel's name to better reflect the format, becoming The CBN Family Channel. By 1990, the network had grown too profitable to remain under the CBN banner without endangering CBN's non-profit status. CBN spun it off to a new company called International Family Entertainment Inc. (run by Robertson's son, Tim Robertson), and the name was changed to simply The Family Channel on September 15, 1990. As The Family Channel, it attracted a slightly older (and religious) audience that is not sought by advertisers; only about one-third of homes watching the network included children or youths. The Family Channel started airing television shows for preschool children, preteens, and teenagers to target all members of the family. Sale to News Corporation International Family Entertainment, Inc. was sold to the Fox Kids Worldwide Inc. subsidiary of News Corporation in July 1997, and Fox Kids Worldwide Inc. was renamed Fox Family Worldwide Inc. The Family Channel was officially renamed Fox Family Channel on August 15, 1998. Following the sale to News Corporation, The 700 Club was scaled back to two airings a day (though the sale agreement required the channel to air it three times daily, once each in the morning, late evening and overnight hours), with the evening broadcast being moved out of prime time and pushed an hour later to 11 p.m. ET from 10 p.m., while Columbo was moved from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET on Sundays. More cartoons were added to the lineup, many of which were from the Fox Kids library, with about eight hours of cartoons airing each day. However, Fox Family also became a cornerstone for syndicating foreign television series, such as the popular British S Club 7 TV series, which became the flagship series for the channel until the early 2000s. The channel also syndicated many Canadian series, both animated and live action, including Angela Anaconda, Big Wolf on Campus, I Was a 6th Grade Alien, and briefly The Zack Files; along with running cartoons and anime based on video games, such as Donkey Kong Country, Megaman, and Monster Rancher, mostly a part of the channel's morning lineup. The channel aired reruns of some Fox Kids series such as Bobby's World, Eek! The Cat, and Life with Louie, and added some recent family sitcoms as well. The new schedule also included reruns of the CBS Saturday morning series Pee-wee's Playhouse, which had not been seen on television since 1991. When Fox bought the channel in 1997, programmers sought a new dual audience – kids in daytime, families at night. In 1999, Fox tried to spin off two digital cable networks from Fox Family, the Boyz Channel and the Girlz Channel, which both contained content focusing on each gender; both networks went off the air a year later due to lack of demand and the controversy that developed over the gender-segregated channels. To a point, Disney is attempting to relaunch the concept somewhat in February 2009 with the conversion of Toon Disney into the tween boy-targeting Disney XD, while Disney Channel has shifted towards featuring programming appealing to girls (though not necessarily in the same gender-exclusionary manner as the Boyz/Girlz Channel concept). Under Fox's ownership, Fox Family saw its ranking slide from 10th to 17th place as a result of an increasingly competitive race for younger viewers and the bickering over ownership between News Corp. and Haim Saban. Some observers believe that it chased away some of the older viewers and never really replaced the core audience. As a result, primetime ratings declined 35% in the past three years. It is also suggested that Fox hired more employees than needed, and when Disney took over, as many as 500 were laid off (this came at a time when Disney itself was downsizing, with 400 others laid off from its failed Go Network online service), but Fox Family also used many freelancers for certain aspects of the channel, such as their short-lived "block jocks" and most of the monikers for the network were created by freelance artists. However, the Disney acquisition took the channel into a deeper decline in its early years. Sale to Disney and rebranding as ABC Familly Fox Family Worldwide Inc. was sold to The Walt Disney Company, for $2.9 billion on October 24, 2001. The sale to The Walt Disney Company included Saban Entertainment. The Walt Disney Company bought Capital Cities/ABC in February 1996, and changed the corporate name to ABC, Inc., and the network was officially renamed ABC Family on November 10, 2001. The sale to Disney was considered one of the largest mistakes or problems occurring during the tenure of Michael Eisner. The failure was primarily due to the acquisition being done by the strategic planning department of Disney, without consulting anyone at ABC. The original plan was to use the channel to essentially show reruns of ABC programming, but this plan was completely impossible since ABC had no syndication rights to the majority of its own programs. During this time, the channel did air same-season repeats of Alias, Less Than Perfect, Life with Bonnie and The Bachelor, almost all of which were Touchstone Television productions (The Bachelor is distributed by Time Warner's Telepictures). But in trying to change the focus of the channel, Disney also canceled several Fox Family series, like State of Grace, and cut back on the network's made-for-cable movies, which were among the few programs Fox Family was doing well with. The ratings tumbled further as the network became dependent on syndicated reruns and no original programs (save for original wraparound segments around Bachelor repeats, and children's programming). The next major plan was to reposition the channel to market it to college students, young women, or to a more hip audience under the name XYZ, a reverse reference to ABC. Disney soon found that the channel could never be renamed as such. The original sale from CBN to Fox/Saban contained a stipulation that the channel contain the word "Family" in the name forever, no matter who owns the network. To create XYZ, the Family Channel would have had to cease to exist – terminating all existing cable and satellite carriage contracts – and XYZ would have to be created as an entirely new network. Cable companies would not be obligated to put XYZ in the spot vacated by the Family Channel. ABC scrapped the idea after discovering this clause. The name was revisited at one point in 2003, serving as a program block entitled "The XYZ.", showing programs and movies aimed at the above groups. The network was also used as a buffer to burn off failed ABC series, such as All American Girl, which featured Spice Girl Geri Halliwell. Another one of Robertson's stipulations in his sale of the original Family Channel to its future line of secular owners was that his syndicated talk show, The 700 Club, be aired twice daily on the network (although the channel is only required to carry the program twice a day, ABC Family carries The 700 Club three times each weekday; once in the morning, twice at night), along with a half-hour CBN talk show called Living the Life (which has since been replaced by The 700 Club Interactive), and that a day-long CBN telethon (which airs the week before the Super Bowl every year) be broadcast annually. Following controversial remarks made by Robertson on the former program about Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, as well as other equally controversial comments regarding homosexuals, feminists, Muslims, abortion and many other social issues, ABC Family moved to distance itself from the program. On August 29, 2005, ABC Family changed the disclaimers before, during, and after the 700 Club broadcasts from "The following/preceding program is/was brought to you by CBN" to "The following/preceding CBN telecast does not reflect the views of ABC Family." Since 2003, ABC Family has been producing more successful original movies and series. Today In August 2006, an all new slogan and visual style premiered on ABC Family: A New Kind of Family. As previously stated, the word "Family" is required under the terms of the lease from Robertson. On August 31, 2006, ABC Family discontinued the Jetix children's block as a part of a plan by Disney to convert all Jetix airings to Toon Disney. Jetix aired various programs since its debut on the network in 2002, which included Metabots, Beyblade, Digimon: Digital Monsters, Daigunder, Get Ed, and many others. Of its long list of programs, the Power Rangers series was its most successful. Sitcom repeats currently air in Jetix's former timeslot from 7-9 a.m. ET, with the morning airing of the 700 Club/Living the Life block pushed back a half-hour further to 9:30 a.m. ET and sitcom reruns airing during the 9 a.m. ET half-hour. Since the removal of Jetix, ABC Family has not aired any programming targeted at pre-teen audiences; those programs now air on sister network Disney Channel (though this is nothing new for the network, as just before the Fox purchase, ABC Family (as The Family Channel) did not carry any children's programming at all). Despite being co-owned with Disney Channel – and targeting a similar audience, very little of Disney Channel's programming has aired on ABC Family (except for reruns of Boy Meets World and Sister, Sister which have previously aired on that network; in fact, episodes of Sister, Sister that aired on ABC Family until it was removed from the lineup in April 2010 were the edited Disney Channel versions as ABC Family did not purchase the original syndicated prints of the show from CBS Television Distribution). However, the channel has aired some films featuring performers that have been associated with Disney in recent years, such as Hilary Duff, The Jonas Brothers, Ashley Tisdale, Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez. The only Disney Channel productions to air on ABC Family were the 2008 movie Camp Rock and the 2011 films Lemonade Mouth and Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension, which are also three of only four Disney Channel movies to air domestically on a non-Disney Channel branded network (Cadet Kelly is the other, having aired on The Wonderful World of Disney in 2002; ABC Family also aired reruns of The Famous Jett Jackson as part of the initial Jetix Lineup). In October 2007, ABC Family completely redesigned its website, giving it a more modern appearance as compared to its previous look. The broadband player was also streamlined, adding more content including reruns of the channel's original series (such as Kyle XY and Greek), and select episodes of acquired programs (such as 7th Heaven and Grounded for Life), as well as adding some Fox Kids programming the channel still owns (such as Attack of the Killer Tomatoes). In 2007, Kyle XY gave the channel the highest viewership in the network's history, but in 2008 that record was broken by the series premiere of The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Nearly three years later, the record was broken again with Switched at Birth premiering to 3.3 million viewers on June 6, 2011. Since then, ABC Family has launched more shows geared towards young females, including popular dramas such as Make It or Break It and The Lying Game, and comedies 10 Things I Hate About You, Melissa & Joey and Baby Daddy. In July 2009, the network posted best-ever July deliveries in Prime and Total viewers thanks to returning series The Secret Life of the American Teenager and new series Make It or Break It, 10 Things I Hate About You and Ruby & The Rockits along with extended features from the Harry Potter film franchise and the TV debut of Labor Pains. On June 8, 2010, the premiere of the ABC Family original drama series Pretty Little Liars, successfully broke series premiere ratings records for ABC Family, across all major viewing demographics of women and young people. Relationship with Family Channel (Canada)
Aside from some common programming and targeting a similar audience, the various iterations of CBN/Fox/ABC Family have had no affiliation with the Canadian network Family Channel. The existence of the Astral Media-owned cable channel has occasionally led to the presumption that the two channels are affiliated. The two channels both currently have a significant connection to The Walt Disney Company (Family primarily acquires its foreign programming from ABC Family sister networks Disney Channel and Disney XD, while Disney owns ABC Family outright). However, the two channels developed separately in each country, and as such, neither channel can be considered an international version of the other, especially given that ABC Family is advertiser-supported unlike Family, which is licensed as a premium channel (although it is carried as a basic service on many Canadian cable and satellite providers) and does not accept traditional advertising. Allarcom and First Choice had first proposed using the "Family Channel" name in 1987. The American channel did not adopt the "CBN Family Channel" name until August 1988 (one month before Canada's Family Channel signed on), and eventually dropped the CBN reference two years later in September 1990. Nevertheless, some American cable providers confusingly display Family Channel's 1988-1998 "Paint and Sun" logo as that of ABC Family's logo on electronic program guides, and occasionally the reverse has occurred with ABC Family's Robertson-era logo as The Family Channel appearing in some Canadian listings (the "Family" script in ABC Family's pre-1998 logo as The Family Channel partially resembles that of the pre-1998 logo of the Canada's Family Channel). Ironically enough, due to that channel's longtime programming agreement with Family, Family is often thought of as a de facto Canadian version of Disney Channel. ABC Family HD
ABC Family HD logo ABC Family HD is a 720p high definition simulcast feed of ABC Family that launched in early 2008. All of the network's original series and films currently are produced in high definition, which are aired in a widescreen letterbox forrmat on the SD channel. Films airing on the channel are also broadcast in HD whenever possible. ABC Family HD is carried on select cable and satellite providers such as Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Cable One, Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-verse, Charter Communications and DirecTV. Dish Network no longer carries the HD feed due to a carriage dispute with Disney. Programming
Main article: List of programs broadcast by ABC Family ABC Family currently offers a slate of mostly reruns of contemporary comedies, such as Full House, America's Funniest Home Videos and That '70s Show, and drama series such as Gilmore Girls. Since 2000, the network has aired several sitcoms that have aired on ABC's former TGIF block, including the Miller-Boyett produced Step by Step (one of the longest-running shows on the channel, running from 2001 to 2010), Family Matters (which ran from 2003 to 2008), Two of a Kind (which ran from 1999 to 2005) and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (which ran from 2006 to 2011); Full House and Boy Meets World are the only TGIF shows that currently air on the network. The channel also produces some original programming, such as Pretty Little Liars, Twisted, The Fosters, Melissa & Joey, Switched at Birth, The Lying Game, Bunheads and Baby Daddy and former series such as The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Kyle XY, Greek, Lincoln Heights, 10 Things I Hate About You, Ruby and the Rockits, Huge, State of Georgia, The Nine Lives of Chloe King, Make It or Break It and Jane by Design. Of these original series, the channel long had minimal success with situation comedy programming (until the debuts of Melissa & Joey and Baby Daddy), with its drama series having generally outlasted the original sitcoms. ABC Family airs their original series on Monday and/or Tuesday nights for dramas, and since 2011, Wednesday nights for comedy series, typically preempting programming that airs in the 7 and 10 p.m. ET time slots the rest of the week. The network airs each season of its original series in a once relatively uncommon format for broadcast television or basic cable, as the first half of the season airs with consecutive episodes, followed by a 4-6 month break, then the remaining episodes of the season are broadcast afterward; ABC Family typically only reruns episodes of their original series in a marathon that airs prior to a season premiere, mid-season or season finale, or other special occasion, though the channel does air week-behind encores of original series that air in the 8 p.m. ET hour prior to the newest episode and a same-night encore of the newest episode the evening of an episode premiere. The channel also airs religious programming, a remnant from the network's CBN ownership, including the aforementioned daily broadcasts of The 700 Club and The 700 Club Interactive, as well as ministry programs from Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, James Robison, Joseph Prince, Doug Batchelor, Kerry Shook and Zola Levitt; aside from the 700 Club and 700 Club Interactive airings, most of the religious programs carried by ABC Family generally air between 5-7 a.m. ET each weekday, and Sundays from 5:30-7 a.m. in the morning and 12-1 a.m. ET at night. It is one of only two Disney-owned cable channels in the U.S. (ESPN Classic being the other) to air infomercials and one of the only cable channels to air informercials before 2:30 a.m. ET.; they air from 1-7 a.m. ET weekdays, 2-7 a.m. ET Saturdays and 12-7 a.m. ET on Sundays. Movies Main article: List of ABC Family Original Movies ABC Family airs movies in primetime on Wednesday through Friday nights (and if no original series are scheduled, Monday and/or Tuesdays also) as well as a day-long schedule of films on weekends from as early as 7 a.m. (sometimes later, such as around 7:30 or 8 a.m. ET) to as late as 2 a.m. ET on Saturdays and 12 a.m. ET on Sundays. Movies airing on the channel are targeted at various audiences, from pre-teens to families to teens and adults, with a large amount of films airing on ABC Family being distributed by corporate sister Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, 20th Century Fox (owned by the channel's former parent News Corporation) and Warner Bros. Entertainment. ABC Family has also purchased the cable television rights to many film series, such as the Harry Potter film series (which ABC and Disney Channel also hold rights to), 2004's A Cinderella Story (and its made-for-DVD spinoffs Another Cinderella Story and A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song) and most recently the Legally Blonde film series (after securing rights to the 2009 made-for-DVD release Legally Blondes). From 1998 to 2002, ABC Family also secured cable rights to several films starring Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen (this was around the time the network aired their short-lived ABC sitcom Two of a Kind, but just prior to carrying Full House). The channel also produces its own original made-for-TV movies (targeting a slightly older audience than those aired by sister network Disney Channel); some of ABC Family's most popular original movies include Night of the Twisters, Holiday in Handcuffs, the Au Pair trilogy, My Fake Fiance and Cyberbully. ABC Family has also recently been generating high levels of viewers with their weekend movie events. The "Harry Potter Weekend" block in July 2009 generated some of the highest levels of viewers for the year so far weekend events. ABC Family is also becoming known for giving previews to upcoming movies, as it has done for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Hairspray and Stardust. Sports See also: Major League Baseball on Fox, Major League Baseball on ESPN, and Major League Baseball on TBS From 2000 to 2001, Fox Family broadcast a weekly Major League Baseball game on Thursday nights during the league's regular season (a game that had previously aired nationwide on Fox Sports Net from 1997–1999), as well as select Division Series games. As part of its purchase of Fox Family, in addition to that game, Disney acquired the MLB rights that were also held by Fox Family's then-sister channel FX. Those two game packages were moved to ESPN beginning with the 2002 baseball season, but the playoff games remained on ABC Family for one additional year due to contractual issues. A deal was made to move those playoff games to ESPN, which produced the games for ABC Family, starting with the 2003 season. Although the games aired on Disney-owned networks, Fox kept the exclusive negotiation to renew the contract after the 2006 season. Fox chose not to renew their rights to the Division Series, which went to TBS as part of its new baseball contract. Seasonal programming blocks 25 Days of Christmas Main article: 25 Days of Christmas The channel has been known for airing many Christmas specials, such as the Rankin-Bass programs The Little Drummer Boy and Santa Claus Is Coming to Town. ABC has since expanded this holiday programming, adding made-for-television movies, a litany of Rankin-Bass sequels (this was complicated somewhat because the broadcasting rights some of the original specials, including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, were still owned by CBS), and other original programming to create "The 25 Days of Christmas". This program block airs in primetime on weekdays and from noon through primetime on weekends from December 1 through 25th each year, and has run on the channel since 1996 as The Family Channel. The block has broadcast some movies that are not necessarily holiday-related; in 2006, for example, Harry Potter movies were shown along with Mary Poppins (the 2004 Enhanced Home Theater Mix version with redubbed sound effects) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Also that year, Dr. Seuss on the Loose and The Cat in the Hat were added, however, not with How the Grinch Stole Christmas. However, ABC Family does remove some portions of these specials due to time constraints or song clearance issues, including the "Peppermint Mine" scene in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the "I'm Kubla Kraus" song number in Jack Frost. 13 Nights of Halloween Main article: 13 Nights of Halloween The success of 25 Days of Christmas led to this holiday spin-off, which airs from October 19 to October 31 each year. Fox Family created the block, which was previously known as the "13 Days of Halloween", in 1998, which was subsequently renamed the current "13 Nights of Halloween" in 2002 following Disney/ABC's purchase of the channel. The programming block became one of the biggest successes of the network; however, it was not broadcast in 2003 as the channel's new programming executives simply decided not to air the block for reasons that remain unclear. The "13 Nights of Halloween" returned in 2004, which included reruns of Scariest Places on Earth (which debuted as part of the original block during the Fox Family era) and the premiere of the original made-for-TV movie The Hollow. The 2005 schedule provided a return to more traditional Halloween programming and scary movies. It has been steadily growing ever since, but has not received the same attention as it had in the Fox Family era. Halloween-themed films, thrillers and horror films are commonly aired during the "13 Nights of Halloween" (such as The Sixth Sense, Corpse Bride, Scooby Doo and occasionally Stephen King's It and Nightworld: Lost Souls). Past programming blocks ABC Family Action Block / Jetix Main article: Jetix The ABC Family Action Block debuted on the network in September 2002, featuring various live action and (primarily) animated children's programs such as Medabots, Beyblade, Digimon: Digital Monsters, Daigunder and Get Ed. The block was rebranded as Jetix in February 2004, at the same time that a Jetix block also launched on Toon Disney. Of its long list of programs, the Power Rangers series was its most successful. The ABC Family Jetix block was discontinued in September 2006, though Jetix continued to air on Toon Disney. Sitcom repeats currently air on ABC Family in Jetix's former timeslot from 7-9 a.m. ET, with the morning airing of the 700 Club/Living the Life block pushed back an hour further to 9 a.m. ET. The reason for Jetix's removal from ABC Family was its expansion on Toon Disney (taking over more than half of said channel's schedule). Most of Jetix's programming was previously aired on Fox Kids and Fox Family. The Jetix brand was discontinued in the United States outright on February 13, 2009, when Toon Disney was relaunched as Disney XD. International version
ABC Spark Main article: ABC Spark
ABC Spark logo On October 26, 2011, The Walt Disney Company and Toronto-based media company Corus Entertainment entered into a partnership to launch a Canadian version of ABC Family under the name ABC Spark, which launched on March 23, 2012. The channel, which is licensed by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission as a Category B specialty channel (which under CRTC rules, allows Canadian digital cable and direct broadcast satellite providers to optionally choose to carry the channel), is aimed at teenagers and young adults between 15- and 34-years-old. The ABC Spark name was chosen to avoid viewer confusion and/or legal issues with the preexisting and unrelated Canadian channel Family, which is owned by Astral Media, and carries programming from ABC Family sister network Disney Channel. In Canada, ABC Spark is available on many cable and satellite providers including Cogeco, Rogers Cable, Bell TV, Shaw Cable and Telus. Criticism
With the 2006 introduction of new shows to the network by Disney, many parents have reacted negatively to ABC Family's programming. Many people feel the network has gone from family friendly to "too risqué," and shows like Greek and The Secret Life of the American Teenager are far too racy for "family viewers." Critics feel the executives at ABC Family are only after viewership numbers and are unconcerned about showing younger generations in questionable scenarios in series and film. Mostly, the main focus is on teenage pregnancy and underage drinking. It should be noted that despite the channel's name including the word "Family" (the network is, as previously mentioned, contractually required to keep the word in its name), the channel's programming content standards had changed several years earlier after the sale of the channel by Pat Robertson and International Family Entertainment, and the channel had been airing even some acquired series and movies that contain profanity, violence and sexual content or dialogue after the sale to News Corporation, particularly since being purchased by The Walt Disney Company. ABC Family does air parental advisory tags at the beginning of some TV-14 rated programs, such as That '70s Show and some episodes of The Secret Life of the American Teenager.