ABC Family provides entertainment options for families, children ranging from elementary school through their teen years, college students and adults. A highlight of the network is seasonal programming geared toward families, and the channel’s original movie offerings have grown in popularity in recent history.
The History of ABC Family
ABC Family was originally founded as the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) Satellite Service in 1977. The network was changed to the Family Channel in 1990, but network executives felt that the target audience was not being reached through series aired on the channel at the time. The lack of a younger audience prompted the network to start airing series geared toward preschoolers, elementary school-aged children and teenagers.
In 1998, the Family Channel was purchased by Fox Family Worldwide, Inc. and became the Fox Family Channel. As a network with Christian roots, the sale of the network was contingent on the airing of a minimum of two daily episodes of the religious show The 700 Club, which continues to this day.
The Fox Family Channel relied heavily on cartoon programming, and the audience volume slipped as older viewers stopped watching the program offerings on the channel. The Disney-ABC Television Group purchased Fox Family Worldwide, Inc. in 2001 and changed the name of the channel to ABC Family. Ownership has remained constant since the 2001 sale.
The network features two seasonal programming events every year.
• 13 Nights of Halloween features Halloween-themed movies and episodes of television shows. The event starts on October 19 and runs through Halloween night. A mix of cartoon movies that are appropriate for children and horror movies that are appropriate for older teens and adults is aired during the event.
• 25 Days of Christmas starts on December 1 each year. Made-for-television movies made especially for ABC Family are part of the event, and television shows and movies from big studios that are holiday-themed are also included. Family movies that are not related to Christmas are also played during the event to encourage family togetherness throughout the holiday season.
Sister channels of ABC Family include ABC, ABC News Now, Soapnet, Disney XD, ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPNEWS, ESPN Classic, ESPNU, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, and the Live Well Network.
More information about ABC Family can be found at http://beta.abcfamily.go.com/.
Top ABC Family Shows
• The Secret Life of the American Teenager is a drama that revolves around high school students dealing with love triangles, sex and teen pregnancy. The beginning of the series focuses on Amy Juergens, played by Shailene Woodley, who becomes pregnant after having a one night stand at band camp with bad boy Ricky Underwood, played by Daren Kagasoff. Now in its fifth season, the series focuses on the teens as they raise their families, deal with marrying young and continue to struggle with scandalous love triangles.
• Pretty Little Liars is a television series that is adapted from novels by the same name. The series follows a clique originally lead by Alison DiLaurentis, played by Sasha Pieterse, who has disappeared and is later discovered to be dead. Pretty Little Liars’ story line focuses on the secrets of members of the group, and a mystery plays out when members of the clique start to receive threatening messages from an unknown person who swears to reveal their secrets.
• Switched at Birth tells the story of Daphne Paloma Vasquez, played by Katie Leclerc, and Bay Madeleine Kennish, played by Vanessa Marano. The two high school-aged girls find out that they were switched at birth, and the series focuses on the struggles that the families of both girls have while adjusting to their new lives. The situation is further complicated by the difficulty that Daphne’s biological parents have accommodating the fact that she is deaf.
• Bunheads is a new show on ABC Family created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, the creator and producer of Gilmore Girls. Set in Southern California, the main character is Michelle Simms, played by Sutton Foster, a ballerina turned showgirl who ends up moving to a small town. Simms struggles with adjustment to small town life after her husband is killed in a car accident and starts teaching at a ballet school with her mother-in-law Fanny Flowers, played by Kelly Bishop.
In addition to the shows listed above, ABC Family regularly airs movies from Disney, Warner Brothers and other major studios.