ABC Family to Change Its Name

‘Pretty Little Liars’ network will rebrand itself in January 2016, but will not shift programming strategy

ABC Family is finally changing its name.

The cable network announced Monday that it will rebrand itself as Freeform, with the new name taking effect in January, 2016. The rebranding is part of the network’s effort, announced at its upfront presentation in April, to focus on viewers ages 14-34 — a group that it has dubbed “Becomers.”

The network’s new logo and branding will be revealed prior to the January relaunch.

“Freeform evokes the spirit and adventure of our audience,” ABC Family president Tom Ascheim said in a statement. “Freeform will deliver new, exciting original content as well as all the favorite shows our viewers already love on ABC Family.”

The rebrand will not represent a shift in programming direction for the network, which was founded in 1977 by the conservative televangelist Pat Robertson as part of his Christian Broadcasting Network. It became The Family Channel in 1990, and then Fox Family when it was sold to News Corp. in 1997. The Walt Disney Co. purchased the network in 2001, changing its name to ABC Family.

ABC Family has been focused for years on younger viewers with original scripted series “Pretty Little Liars,” “The Fosters,” “Young and Hungry” and “Baby Daddy,” all returning in 2016, as well as upcoming series “Shadowhunters” and “Recovery Road.”

ABC Family is expected to announce a new slate of series orders next month as it looks to double its amount of original programming within the next four years.

The “Becomers” strategy is a deliberate effort to keep the network embedded with younger viewers even as the millennials who occupied that demo begin to age out of it.

According to ABC Family, millennials now account for more than 70 percent of people ages 12-34, but will account for fewer than 50 percent of the demo in five years.

ABC Family is also launching a promotion featuring user-generated content at Freeformfan.com, where it is soliciting fan photos and videos.

In the 2014-15 season, ABC Family ranked as the No. 1 rated network among women ages 18-34 for the first time in its history and the No. 1 ad-supported cable network among women 12-34 for the fourth straight season.

The network has heavily emphasized social media as a promotional tool, claiming to be the No. 1 cable network on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Flagship series “Pretty Little Liars” has prompted the six most tweeted-about episodes in television history.

ABC Family is the most recent television network to rebrand itself in the last two years, following Esquire network (formerly Style), Pop (formerly TV Guide Network) and FYI (formerly Bio).