In the midst of a Pretty Little Liars hiatus, I totally understand why ABC Family would need to add some drama into our lives, and a radical name change seems a good place to start. That's right, ABC Family is changing its name to "Freeform" come this January. It seems that the 14 year old network (which was acquired by Disney in 2001) is going through what I can only assume is somewhat of a mid-life crisis. That or a complete rebranding. Either way, the times? Oh ,they are a changing... But let's answer this question for real: Why is ABC Family's new name "Freeform?"
According to Vulture, the new name is part of the network's effort to rebrand its image (thank goodness it wasn't a mid-life crisis). I guess having the word "Family" as an integral part of your name does connote a certain level of innocence, and the execs at ABC Family — or soon-to-be-Freeform — just don't feel like that's an appropriate representation of its network anymore. That's fair, I think.
Even though "Freeform" sounds a bit like that intro to Yoga class you once considered taking, the name doesn't seem that ill-fitting when you really consider what the network is trying to achieve. Here's everything you need to know about why it actually makes sense, and might even be a pretty smart move on its part.
1. The Network Has Evolved
ABC Family president Tom Ascheim explained that, "Freeform evokes the spirit and adventure of our audience." Adventure might seem a little hyperbolic — this isn't HBO, after all — but it's a solid point to bring up. With shows like Pretty Little Liars, The Fosters, and Switched at Birth, ABC Family has expanded its narratives since it started back in 2001.
2. The Audience Will be Changing
A press release sent out by ABC Family introduced the next generation as "Becomers," explaining that this new audience will "represent a life stage rather than a generation." The network sees a rebrand targeted toward this demographic as advantageous, because, according to them, “in five years, millennials will be less than half of the [advertising] target." I can't imagine a time when I won't want to watch Pretty Little Liars, but I guess I'll take their word for it.
3. "Family" Seems Outdated
The same shows mentioned above tackle some pretty tough topics. That's not to say that discussing transgender characters (PLL), abortion (Switched at Birth), or LGBTQ families (The Fosters) isn't something that families can't watch or discuss together. It's just that attaching the word "Family" to the network seems like false branding at this point.
4. "Freeform" Evokes Feelings of Trying New Things
The same execs described this new audience as a group of viewers who “are navigating the wonderful, fun, exciting, and scary time in life when you experience the most firsts — first car, first apartment, first job, first love, first heartbreak — all the firsts that exist between who they are and who they want to become.” Sounds about right, but I don't think that experience is limited to these so called "Becomers." Nonetheless, a name that basically implies an ever changing lifestyle would fit right in with these scenarios of "firsts."
5. The Name is Purposefully Vague
ABC Family sees the enigmatic name as parallel to what the Becomers represent. The network explained, "The audience's identity and experience are fluid as they explore endless possibilities and their passions take shape. Freeform personifies this fluidity and will deliver ideas, forms of content and ways of interacting with the brand."
6. There Will Be More Scripted Shows
Sorry to bury the lead here, but don't worry, PLL fans. That show, and most of the other ones currently on ABC Family, will stay put. The only thing that's changing is an inclusion of more scripted programs. In fact, original scripted shows will double in the next four years.
Vulture reported that new pilots and shows will be announced later this month, so I guess Freeform really just means the freedom to form new shows? And whether or not you're a fan of the new name, we all can certainly get excited about that. If you'd like to show your support for the network, as well as help spread the word about the name change, visit Freeformfan.com.
Images: ABC Family; Giphy (7)