- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 7, 2015

ABC Family is changing its name to ABC Freeform in an effort to cater to younger viewers who might find its previous identity to be too “wholesome.”

The Disney-owned cable channel is ditching “Family,” which has survived several name changes over a span of 30 years, starting in January, Entertainment Weekly reported.

The switch is reportedly part of an effort to attract what the network calls “Becomers,” viewers between the ages of 14 and 34.

“For us, this doesn’t feel like a radical departure, this is an evolution,” ABC Family president Tom Ascheim told EW. “For the last 10-to-12 years, we’ve been targeting young people, Millennials, and then something happened. Millennials started getting older. The oldest ones are nearly 40. So do we follow Millennials or stay with the ‘life stage’ that got us here?”

The network polled cable viewers and found that target-demo viewers who did not watch ABC Family were turned off by the name, particularly the word “Family,” which they associated with “family friendly” and “wholesome,” Mr. Ascheim said.

“That’s the nub of why we’re changing our name,” he told EW. “Like any growing business, we want to keep our core customers satisfied, but also add new ones — and they had a cliched sense of who we are. The word ‘Family’ sounds overly loud to their ears and that makes it a barrier to them coming into our ecosystem.”

“We wanted an emotional response to a name that made people happy,” Mr. Ascheim said of the name change. “We got an overwhelmingly positive response. Freeform sounds like fun.”

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