While I was watching ABC Family's "25 Days of Christmas" this past December, the Disney-owned network announced that it would be changing its name to “Freeform” in January 2016. After 30 years of being named “ABC Family,” the station decided to change its name in order to get rid of its “family” persona. Well, why would they want to do that? Many viewers willingly choose to flip to the ABC Family channel in order to watch feel-good, family-oriented movies.
Freeform is currently targeting an audience between the ages of 14 and 34, which they refer to as “Becomers.” In a recent press release, the network stated that “Becomers represent a life stage rather than a generation” and that “in five years, millennials will be less than half of the target.” Hello people, get a grip. We viewers are coming to you to watch "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," not "Die Hard."
But why the name Freeform? The station was attracted to the so-called elusiveness of the name. “The audience's identity and experience are fluid as they explore endless possibilities and their passions take shape,” the network said in a press release, “Freeform personifies this fluidity and will deliver ideas, forms of content and ways of interacting with the brand.” Sounds like a bunch of hogwash to me. Freeform by definition means not conforming to a regular or formal structure or shape. Is the network that desperate in daring to be different?
Freeform has promised to keep some of ABC Family’s most popular television shows such as "Pretty Little Liars," "Switched at Birth," and "The Fosters," mostly because they were the few shows targeted toward a teenage demographic. However, the shows will reflect Freeform’s focus on Becomers. For example, the setting of Pretty Little Liars will fast-forward 5 years to focus on the post-college years. Now they are changing the storyline to a staple TV show? Back off, Freeform.
Even though ABC Family President Tom Ascheim said the change would be more of an evolution (no families necessary) than anything else, it sounds like Freeform is just plain breaking tradition. Plus, I personally find the name Freeform uninviting and unappealing. A good friend once told me, “Don’t change what’s not broken.” Therefore, I’m going to have to give ABC Family’s name change a big ol’ thumbs-down.