Creator: ABC Family

Strange how Pat Robertson hasn't yet complained about this "new kind of family"...

Cable channel owned by The Walt Disney Company. It started in 1977 as CBN Satellite Network, then CBN Cable Network ("CBN" standing for "Christian Broadcasting Network"), owned by controversial Right-Wing pastor Pat Robertson. In 1988, the channel was renamed to CBN Family Channel; two years later it was spun off and the name was changed to The Family Channel, as the channel had begun to make too much money for non-profit CBN to keep it around. Through all the CBN/Family Channel years, though, outside of the hours devoted to The 700 Club and its surrounding programming it was probably known more for being the place your grandfather got his fix of Westerns with Gunsmoke, The Big Valley, and Bonanza. In the early 1990s, the network started original programming such as Big Brother Jake (think Charles in Charge, minus the hijinks of teenage hormones), and the television version of Maniac Mansion, which owing to where it aired was severely Bowdlerised. Soon, though, most of the network's original efforts devolved to the usual No Budget family Game Shows found on cable at that time, including the second iteration of Shop 'Til You Drop.

The Family Channel, which was by this point co-owned with the library of MTM Enterprises, was bought by Fox in 1997, and renamed Fox Family Channel the next year. The channel, along with Fox Kids, was sold to Disney in 2001 because Fox had no idea what to do with a network devoted to families and the restrictions of their contract for the purchase of the network. An attempt to create two spin-off channels with sex-segregated children's programming, the Boyz & Girlz Channels, failed because of a lack of interest and viewers questioning excluding one gender from an entire channel (though it could be said that these days, the Disney Channel and Disney XD have the near-same concept).

That same year, the channel's name settled on the current one, the Fox Kids block met its end the next year, and its programming moved to ABC Family (and Toon Disney) as "Jetix" (the name was introduced in 2004; previous to that the programming had aired on ABCF under the name of "ABC Family Action Block"). The early ABC years were spent converting the network to a place to re-air ABC programs, which was botched by the network realizing that only programs from their internal studio could get a second ABC Family run, with other outside producers heavily objecting to the arrangement. By 2005, it had seemed to become a place for cheap reality programming and non-stop reruns of The Bachelor.

Disney planned to revamp the channel into a young-adult-aimed channel named "XYZ," but these plans were scrappednote . The network also has to give up a full day of programming in late January so Robertson can air his annual CBN Telethon, but these days the only thing that's lost is the usual Sunday movie marathon.

The channel eventually abused a loophole and changed their slogan to "A new kind of family", pretty much saying that they may have to keep "Family" in their network's name, but that hasn't stopped them from turning it into a not-so-family-friendly channel, featuring original series with sexual content and other edgy material you wouldn't normally associate with a network with "Family" in the name. Unfortunately, this has led to ABC Family being targeted regularly by moral guardians and viewers who feel there is severe brand dissonance and are unaware the network would be more than happy to change its name if it could.

Eventually, the network also got actual original programming too, mainly targeting young women. The end result is something akin to being the [adult swim] to Disney Channel... or the channel itself being "Teen Disney", the channel's answer to TeenNick (Minus the old Disney shows in it).

In March 2012, the network gained a Canadian sister network in ABC Spark, which replaced Dusk, a horror film network. ABC Spark is bound by none of Robertson's requirements, and outside of some programs already claimed by other channels (like Pretty Little Liars, which is one of MuchMusic's stalwart shows), carries most of ABC Family's original shows, and even rerun shows.

2015 is notable for bringing in two revolutionary events, both of which must make those at The 700 Club thrilled. Their original show The Fosters gained some extra buzz for boasting what has been said to be the youngest same sex kiss in television history. A few months later it started airing its' first Reality Show, Becoming Us about a teen couple dealing with both their fathers transitioning.

That same year, on October 6th, ABC Family management confirmed that the network would be renamed once again, to "Freeform", in an attempt to garner more younger viewers, beginning January 2016. This move debunked a prior rumor that a contractual obligation from network founder Pat Robertson was the reason the "Family" name was kept on the channel. (Sources, such as James B. Stewart's Disney War, merely said that the name "Family" was written into previous contracts with cable companies.) However, the network will still be required to air The 700 Club twice a day.

Original shows airing or about to air on this channel:

Past Shows:

Syndicated shows:

  • The 700 Club...but only because ABC Family is contractually required to air it, and it clearly isn't happy about having to do so; it buries the show at 11 PM note  and puts a disclaimer in front of it to warn people.
    • If you're watching the channel at any time The 700 Club is airing, you would have no idea you're watching ABC Family as the network removes all branding from the channel during that hour. You might as well call this time "CBN on ABC Family", like Nick's Nick At Nite. CBN telethons also air on the channel.
  • It's also the only show they frequently run commercials before, after the preceding show has ended fully and run closing credits. They really seem to want their normal demographic to change over and watch The Daily Show (or anything else)...
  • Sundays are usually filled with televangelists like Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer and others, but these don't receive as severe a warning as The 700 Club because they're normal paid programs.

Film Broadcast Rights:

Special events

  • 13 Nights of Halloween: A yearly carry-over from the Fox Family days, playing specials and movies devoted to light horror (and Harry Potter).
  • 25 Days of Christmas: Another yearly tradition since the Fox Family era. Initially playing all-Christmas programming, Disney subsequently phased out some of said specials and has since devoted a lot of airtime to in-house/Pixar animated films, and since almost all of the Harry Potter films have at least one Christmas scene, ABC Family has a legitimate excuse to air them.

Actors/Actresses that show up on the channel:

A new kind of family.

Alternative Title(s):

The Family Channel