Family Channel (shortened as Family) is a channel that airs family programming. Specifically, it's a Canadian channel launched in 1988 that previously aired series aimed at preschoolers during the day, kids in the afternoons, and teens in the evenings, along with family-oriented movies. Until 2016, it was a premium, commercial-free service that operated similarly to other, ad-supported kids networks. As such, its direct American counterpart would have been HBO Family, but it is otherwise not to be confused with any similarly-named channels outside of Canada, especially the channel formerly known as ABC Family.
However, Family was most known for airing several series acquired from ABC Family's sister networks: Disney Channel, Disney Junior, and Disney XD. Family would even go so far as to replace some its own program blocks with Disney-branded blocks. For example, the preschool-oriented Playhouse/Family Jr. block would be relaunched as Playhouse Disney on Family, while the action-oriented Power Box was replaced with a Jetix-branded block. Family would also launch Disney Channel's spinoffs, including a newly-rebranded Disney Junior, as its sister networks. Owing to this, and the Disney Channel Live-Action Universe tween-coms that had come to dominate the schedule by the early 2010s, Family Channel was pretty much "Disney Channel Canada" in all but name.
Outside of that, Family has commissioned several original series of its own, such as Franklin, Life with Derek, and Katie and Orbie. Family has also aired a handful of series from Nickelodeon in the past, despite that network's long-standing relationship with YTV. The Other Kingdom may very well be the first associated co-production between the two networks (unless you count Are You Afraid of the Dark?, which originally aired on YTV). Most programming aired in the '80s and '90s tended to be co-produced in association in some manner with HBO. As both were commercial-free, pay-TV services, they would logically cooperate on commissioning series that both could air without having to edit anything, rather than rerun series from other networks. note
Ultimately, in 2015, Family Channel would remove Disney's programming in favor of its own as well as shows acquired from other companies like DreamWorks Animation. The decision to focus more on Canadian programming coincided with The Next Step solidifying its place as Family's first breakout series since Life with Derek. In addition, Family would briefly launch its own late-night block, F2N, which would be anchored by the newly launched Degrassi. Corus Entertainment, who already owned the Canadian version of ABC Family (known as ABC Spark), would acquire the rights to programming from Disney Channel and its sister networks and, eventually, relaunch said sister networks.
Originally owned by Allarco as a joint venture between its Superchannel (the now-defunct Movie Central) and First Choice (what is now known as Crave), similarly to how HBO Canada used to operate. Family was later sold to Astral Media, who, at the time, was co-owner of Teletoon (alongside Corus Entertainment). After Astral was demolished by Bell Media, Family and its sister networks were sold to their current owners at DHX Media (now WildBrain) in 2013.
Family Channel's spinoffs include:
- Family Jr. - A multiplex channel of Family that targets preschoolers almost exclusively. Family Jr. was also the name of Family's preschool block from February 2009 to December 2010. Launched on November 30, 2007 as "Playhouse Disney Channel".
- Télémagino - A French-language cable channel that also targets preschoolers. Launched on July 5, 2010 as "Playhouse Disney Télé".
- WildBrainTV - A cable channel that basically airs all of Family's boy-skewed programming, along with some exclusive series of its own. When it was known as CHRGD, it also maintained a weekend morning block on Family in its early years. Launched on June 1, 2011 as the first Canadian incarnation of Disney XD, and then relaunched as Family CHRGD in October 2015 before receiving its current name in March 2022.
The following series were originally produced for Family (listed alphabetically):
Live-Action TV (premiere dates and production companies are in brackets)
- African Skies (1992; produced by Franklin/Waterman Entertainment)
- Anna Banana (1994; produced by Prisma Productions)
- Are You Afraid of the Dark? (1999; produced by Cinar and WildBrain)
- Audubon's Animal Adventures (1997; produced by National Audubon Society)
- Backstage (2016; produced by Fresh TV)
- Bajillionaires (2019; produced by Six Eleven Media)
- Baxter (2010; produced by Shaftesbury Films)
- BB & Jennifer (1988; produced by Vrak)
- The Big Garage (1997; produced by Prisma Productions)
- Connor Undercover (2010; produced by Heroic Film Company)
- Darcy's Wild Life (2004; produced by Temple Street Productions)
- Debra! (2011; produced by Cookie Jar Entertainment)
- Degrassi: Next Class (2016; produced by DHX Media)
- Fabulicious Day (1996; produced by Chelsea Road Productions)
- Gaming Show (In My Parent's Garage) (2014; produced by Banger Films and DHX Media)
- Hello Mrs. Cherrywinkle (1996; prudced by Owl/SDA Productions and Zone 3)
- Holly Hobbie (2019; produced by Aircraft Pictures)
- In a Heartbeat (2000; produced by Alliance Atlantis and Buena Vista Television)
- Kingdom Adventure (1990; produced by Chelsea Road Productions)
- The Latest Buzz (2007; produced by Decode Entertainment)
- Life with Derek (2005; produced by Shaftesbury Films)
- Lost & Found Music Studios (2015; produced by Temple Street Productions)
- Majority Rules! (2009; produced by Entertainment One; previously on Teletoon)
- Malory Towers (2020; produced by DHX Media and King Bert Productions)
- Massive Monster Mayhem (2017; produced by DHX Media for Family CHRGD)
- Mentors (1998; produced by Mind's Eye Entertainment)
- Musiquest (1990; produced by Calgary Television)
- My Perfect Landing (2020; produced by Beachwood Canyon Productions)
- Naturally, Sadie (2005; produced by Decode Entertainment)
- The Next Step (2013; produced by Radical Sheep Productions; moved to CBC Gem and YTV)
- Nilus the Sandman (1996; produced by Cambium Film & Video Productions)
- OMG! (2014; produced by Dreamworks Television)
- The Other Kingdom (2016; produced by DHX Media)
- Overruled! (2009; produced by Shaftesbury Films)
- Playdate (2015; produced by Sinking Ship Entertainment for Family Jr.)
- Radio Free Roscoe (2003; produced by Decode Entertainment)
- Raising Expectations (2016; produced by Dolphin Entertainment)
- Really Me (2011; produced by Fresh TV)
- Ruby And The Well (2022; produced by Shaftesbury Films)
- Take Off (1991; produced by Veronica Omroep Organisatie)
- We Are Savvy (2016; produced by B Minors Productions)
- What's Up Warthogs! (2011; produced by Dolphin Entertainment)
- Wingin' It (2010; produced by Temple Street Productions)
Western Animation (premiere dates and production companies are in brackets)
- The Adventures of Tintin (1991; produced by Nelvana)
- Bobobobs (1988; produced by BRB Internacional)
- The Busy World of Richard Scarry (1994; produced by Cinar)
- Chip and Potato (2018; produced by DHX Media for Family Jr.)
- The Deep (2015; produced by DHX Media for Family CHRGD)
- Dorg Van Dango (2020; produced by WildBrain and Cartoon Saloon)
- Fangbone! (2016; produced by Radical Sheep Productions for Family CHRGD)
- Franklin (1997; produced by Nelvana; moved to Treehouse TV)
- Franny's Feet (2003; produced by Decode Entertainment)
- Henry's World (2002; produced by Cuppa Coffee Studios)
- Hoze Houndz (1999; produced by Amberwood Entertainment)
- Justin Time (2011; produced by Guru Studio for Family Jr.)
- Katie and Orbie (1994; produced by Lacewood Productions)
- King (2003; produced by Decode Entertainment)
- Kleo The Misfit Unicorn (1998; produced by Gordon Stanfield Animation)
- The Legend Of White Fang (1992; produced by Cinar)
- The Little Lulu Show (1995; produced by Cinar)
- Lucas the Spider (2021; produced by Fresh TV for Family Jr.)
- The Magical Adventures of Quasimodo (1996; produced by CinéGroupe)
- Mighty Mike (2019; produced by Digital Dimension)
- The Neverending Story: The Animated Adventures of Bastian Balthazar Bux (1995; produced by Nelvana)
- Papa Beaver's Storytime (1993; produced by Cinar)
- Polly Pocket (2018; produced by WildBrain and Mattel)
- Red And Roll (2019; produced by WildBrain)
- Ripley's Believe It or Not! (1999; produced by Cinar)
- Saving Me (2023; produced by Sphere Animation)
- Sea Dogs (1995; produced by CinéGroupe)
- The Secret World of Benjamin Bear (2003; produced by Amberwood Entertainment)
- Slugterra (2012; produced by Nerd Corps Entertainment for Family CHRGD)
- Something Else (2003; produced by Studio B Productions)
- Spirou (1993; produced by CinéGroupe and Dupuis Publishing)
- Stella And Sam (2009; produced by Radical Sheep Productions for Family Jr.)
- Summer Memories (2022; produced by WildBrain)
- UMIGO (2015; produced by WildBrain)
Family Channel provides the following tropes:
- Adored by the Network: Johnny Test, Boy Girl Dog Cat Mouse Cheese, Rainbow Butterfly Unicorn Kitty, Grizzy and the Lemmings, and Miraculous Ladybug fill up most of the network's schedule, pretty much making them the channel's main darlings.
- Alternate Company Equivalent: HBO Family is perhaps the closest to an American counterpart Family Channel has; both Family and HBO are premium channels. The difference between the two is that Family is still bundled with basic cable children's channels, such as YTV, and is treated as such. While it was formally affiliated with The Movie Network (now owned by Bell Media), Family is an independent entity from Canada's other Pay-TV services.
- Darker and Edgier: With the success of The Next Step and loss of Disney Channel programming rights, Family began airing more older-skewed series like Malcolm in the Middle and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (both of which used to air on YTV in the late 2000s). The exclamation mark was the launch of F2N and its lineup of dramas, including Gilmore Girls.
- Follow the Leader:
- Network Decay: The invasion of Disney Channel tween-coms that came at the height of High School Musical's popularity would completely take over the channel's schedule during the 2000s. Just as older fans of Disney Channel despise the tweenage girl-skewed, cookie-cutter, laugh-track exploiting quality of tween-coms, so too did fans of Family Channel's earlier days. While Disney XD's shows were later spun-off into their own cable channel (now WildBrainTV), Family was still dominated by series like Austin & Ally and Dog with a Blog before DHX Media took over.
- As Disney XD in the United States would become just as focused on animation as its predecessor, the Canadian channel would begin airing reruns of girl-targeted Disney Channel sitcoms. In fairness, most of Disney XD's animated series in the United States were either acquired or produced by other channels (such as YTV and Teletoon).
- In 2018, Family began airing series that DHX Media produced for their main rivals; Supernoobs, Inspector Gadget (2015), and Johnny Test, all of which were produced for Teletoon. New episodes of Supernoobs and Inspector Gadget are premiering on Family Channel instead of Teletoon. The issue is, Teletoon was still airing reruns of these series. In addition to Cartoon Network Canada, there were three networks airing reruns of Johnny Test.
- Screwed by the Network: The two-hour Jetix block was originally launched as a replacement for their "Power Box" block in 2006, three years before Disney XD was launched in 2009. On top of the lack of promotion, the block had an improbable timeslot of 6:03 to 7:45 a.m. on weekend mornings. note As a result, not many people took notice of Jetix's eventual degradation, with bumps and idents no longer being made for the block due to the lack of content. Then-parent company Astral Media would eventually launch the first Canadian incarnation of Disney XD in 2011, taking all of Family Channel's action programming with it (outside of the occasional "Disney XD Takeover" block on Family).