ABC Family to be renamed Freeform to keep Millennials on the hook

abc family to rebrand cable channel as simply freeform pretty little liars
Shot from ABC Family's Pretty Little Liars

Beginning in January, ABC Family will be known simply as Freeform.

The family-friendly channel hopes the rebrand will expand its audience to include social media savvy young adults under 35. While shows like Pretty Little Liars, The Fosters, and Young and Hungry won’t change, the channel is aiming to keep viewers watching even after they’ve left their childhood homes.

ABC Family president Tom Ascheim told EW that the name change is just an evolution of the brand. “For the last 10-to-12 years, we’ve been targeting young people, Millennnials, and then something happened. Millennials started getting older,” he explained. “The oldest ones are nearly 40. So do we follow Millennials or stay with the ‘life stage’ that got us here?”

Rather than focusing in on Millenials, the Disney-owned network says it’s targeting “becomers.” This comprises not just high schoolers and college kids, but also adults in their 20s and early 30s when they’re “navigating the wonderful, fun, exciting and scary time in life when you experience the most firsts—first car, first apartment, first job, first love, first heartbreak—all the firsts that exist between who they are now and who they want to become,” according to the network

That said, family-oriented programming like the upcoming 25 Days of Christmas specials will continue to run on the channel. “We want to be inclusive; the idea is to center on young people but include families as becomers have families,” explained Ascheim to Deadline

Sci-fi series Shadowhunters, based on novelist Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments book series, will spearhead the rebrand when it premieres in January, according to Deadline. And expect much more original programming from the network, too: Within the next year, Freeform aims to double its series offerings.

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