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ABC Family is an Americanmarker cable television network currently owned by ABC Family Worldwide Inc., a division of The Walt Disney Company. ABC Family offers contemporary and inclusive programming, including series, movies, events, and enhanced ABC encore presentations. It was founded in 1977 as an extension of televangelist Pat Robertson's ministry, and eventually evolved into The Family Channel. In 1998, it was sold to Fox Kids Worldwide Inc and renamed Fox Family. On October 24, 2001, Fox Family Worldwide Inc was sold to The Walt Disney Company, the sale to Disney included Saban Entertainment and Fox Family. This channel generally offers programming for older teens, young adults, and young families.

History

Beginning

ABC Family launched on April 29, 1977 as the CBN Satellite Service, an arm of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network. The name later changed to the CBN Cable Network in 1981 and grew to a million homes by that year.

On August 1, 1988, the word "Family" was incorporated into the name to better reflect the format, becoming The CBN Family Channel.

By 1990, the network had grown too profitable to remain under the CBN banner without endangering CBN's nonprofit status. CBN spun it off to a new company called International Family Entertainment Inc. (run by Robertson's son, Tim), and the name was changed to simply The Family Channel.

As The Family Channel, it attracted a slightly older (and religious) audience not sought by advertisers; only about one-third of homes watching the network included children or youth. The Family Channel started airing television shows for preschool children, preteens, and teenagers to target all members of the family..

International Family Entertainment Inc was sold to Fox Kids Worldwide Inc in July 1997, and Fox Kids Worldwide Inc was renamed Fox Family Worldwide Inc. The Family Channel was officially renamed Fox Family Channel on August 15, 1998.

During this period, Fox Family aired an extensive lineup of cartoons from the Fox Kids, which was produced by Haim Saban and also aired on the Fox brodacast network on weekends. As part of a new agreement between Major League Baseball on Fox reached for the 2001 season, Fox Family also aired regular-season baseball games on Thursday nights and most games in the first round of the playoffs, the Division Series. The contract replaced a similar one with Fox Sports Net and FX. The game in which Barry Bonds tied the single-season home run record on October 4, 2001 was shown on Fox Family.

Fox Family Worldwide Inc was sold to Disney for $2.9 billion on October 24, 2001. The sale to Disney included Saban Entertainment. The network was officially renamed ABC Family on November 10, 2001.

The sale to Disney was considered one of the largest mistakes or problems occurring during the tenure of Michael Eisner. The failure was primarily due to the acquisition being done by the strategic planning department of Disney, without consulting anyone at ABC. The original plan was to use the channel to essentially show re-runs of ABC programming, but this plan was completely impossible since ABC had no syndication rights to the majority of their own programs. During this time, the network did air same-season repeats of Alias, Less Than Perfect, Life with Bonnie, and The Bachelor, almost all of which were Touchstone Television productions (The Bachelor is distributed by Time Warner's Telepictures). But in trying to change the focus of the channel, Disney also canceled several Fox Family series, like State of Grace, and cut back on the network's TV movies, which were among the few programs Fox Family was doing well with. The ratings tumbled further as the network became dependent on syndicated reruns and no original programs (save for original wrap-around segments around Bachelor repeats, and children's programming).

The next major plan was to reposition the channel to market it to college students, young women, or to a more hip audience under the name XYZ, a reverse reference to ABC. Disney soon found that the channel could never be renamed as such. The original sale from CBN to Fox/Saban contained a stipulation that the channel contain the word "Family" in the name forever, no matter who owns the network. To create XYZ, the Family Channel would have had to cease to exist — terminating all existing cable TV contracts — and XYZ would have to be created as a new network. Cable companies would not be obligated to put XYZ in the spot vacated by the Family Channel. ABC scrapped the idea after discovering this clause..

The name was revisited at one point in 2003, serving as a program block entitled "The XYZ.", showing programs and movies aimed at the above groups. The network was also used as a buffer to burn off failed ABC series, such as All American Girl, which featured Spice Girl Geri Haliwell..

Change

Another one of Robertson's stipulations in his sale of the original Family Channel to its future line of secular owners was the demand that his syndicated talk show, The 700 Club, be aired twice daily on the network, along with a shorter CBN talk show called Living the Life. Following controversial remarks made by Robertson on the former program about Venezuelanmarker president Hugo Chávez, as well as other equally controversial comments regarding gays, feminists, Muslims, abortion, and many other social issues, ABC Family moved to distance itself from the program (the showing of which is also required under Robertson's original sale stipulations, along with the airing of a day-long CBN telethon in late January every year); ABC Family changed the disclaimers before, during, and after the broadcasts from "The following/preceding program is brought to you by CBN" to "The following/preceding CBN telecast does not reflect the views of ABC Family."Since 2003, ABC Family has been producing more successful ABC Family Original Movies and series..

Today

In August 2006, an all new slogan and visual style premiered on ABC Family: A New Kind of Family. As previously stated, the word "Family" is required under the terms of the lease from Robertson.

On August 31, 2006, ABC Family aired Jetix for the last time as a part of Disney's plan to convert all Jetix airings to Toon Disney. Jetix aired various programs since its debut on the network in 2002, which included Metabots, Beyblade, Digimon: Digital Monsters, Daigunder, Get Ed, and many others. Of its long list of programs, the Power Rangers series was its most successful . Sitcom repeats currently air in Jetix's former timeslot from 7 a.m.-9 a.m. ET, with the morning airing of the 700 Club/Living the Life block pushed back an hour further to 9 a.m. ET.. Since the removal of Jetix, ABC Family has not aired any programming targeted at pre-teen audiences; those programs now air on sister network Disney Channel (though this is nothing new for the network, as just before the Fox purchase, ABC Family (as The Family Channel) did not carry any children's programming at all).

Despite being co-owned with Disney Channel -- and targeting a similar audience, very little of Disney Channel's programming has aired on ABC Family (except for reruns of Boy Meets World and Sister, Sister which have previously aired on that network; in fact, episodes of Sister, Sister that air on ABC Family are the edited Disney Channel versions as ABC Family did not purchase the original syndicated prints of the show from CBS Television Distribution). However, the channel has aired some films featuring performers that have been associated with Disney in recent years, such as Hilary Duff, The Jonas Brothers, Ashley Tisdale, Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez. The only Disney Channel production to air on ABC Family was the 2008 movie Camp Rock, starring the Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato, which is also one of only three Disney Channel movies to air domestically on a non-Disney Channel branded network (Cadet Kelly is the other having aired on The Wonderful World of Disney in 2002; though TV Guide once claimed that ABC Family once aired reruns of The Famous Jett Jackson just prior to the removal of the Jetix lineup).

In October 2007, ABC Family completely redesigned their website, giving it a more modern look as compared to its previous look. They also streamlined the Broadband Player, putting more content on it including reruns of Three Moons Over Milford, and episodes of 7th Heaven, Grounded for Life, Kyle XY, and Greek, as well as adding some Fox Kids programming they still own, such as Attack of the Killer Tomatoes..

Kyle XY had given the channel the most viewers in the network's history, but in 2008 that was broken by the series premiere of The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Since then, ABC Family has launched more shows geared towards young females, such as dramas Make It or Break It and Lincoln Heights, and comedies 10 Things I Hate About You, and Ruby and the Rockits.

In July 2009, the network posted best-ever July deliveries in Prime and Total viewers thanks to returning series The Secret Life of the American Teenager and new series Make It or Break It, 10 Things I Hate About You and Ruby & The Rockits along with features from the Harry Potter film franchise and the TV debut of Labor Pains.

Aside from some common programming and targeting the same audience, the various iterations of CBN/Fox/ABC Family have had no affiliation with the Canadianmarker network Family, although some electronic guide providers confusingly display Family's pre-1999 logo (which partially resembles ABC Family's pre-1998 logo as The Family Channel) as that of ABC Family's logo.

ABC Family HD

ABC Family HD logo


ABC Family HD is a 720p high definition simulcast of ABC Family that launched in early 2008.. Currently the network's original series are produced in a 16:9 HD format (currently downgraded to letterboxed 4:3 on the current channel), and episodes of Kyle XY and Greek have been broadcast in full HD during summer Friday broadcasts. ABC Family HD is being offered on select cable and satellite providers such as Comcast Time Warner , Cox , and DIRECTV .

Programming

ABC Family currently offers a slate of mostly reruns of contemporary comedies, such as Full House, Step By Step, Grounded For Life, America's Funniest Home Videos, That '70s Show and My Wife and Kids, with the only off-network drama series on the schedule being Gilmore Girls. Since 2000, the network has aired several sitcoms that have aired on ABC's former TGIF block, including the Miller-Boyett produced Step by Step (one of the longest-running shows on the channel), Full House, Two of a Kind and Family Matters, as well as Boy Meets World and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.

The channel also produces a limited amount of original series, such as The Secret Life of the American Teenager, 10 Things I Hate About You, Lincoln Heights, Ruby and the Rockits and Make It or Break It. The network also airs a limited amount of religious programming, including the aforementioned daily broadcasts of The 700 Club and Living the Life, as well as ministry programs from Zola Levitt and Joyce Meyer.

It is one of only two Disney-owned cable channels in the U.S.; (ESPN Classic being the other) to air infomercials; they air from 1 to 7 a.m. ET weekdays, 2 to 7 a.m. ET Saturdays and 12 to 7 a.m. ET on Sundays.

Movies

ABC Family airs movies Tuesdays at 10PM/ET, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8PM/ET and a day-long schedule of films on weekends from 12PM-12AM/ET. Movies airing on the network are targeted at various audiences, from pre-teens to teens and adults. ABC Family has also purchased the cable television rights to many film series, such as the Harry Potter film series (which ABC and Disney Channel also hold rights to), 2004's A Cinderella Story and its 2008 made-for-DVD spinoff Another Cinderella Story and most recently the Legally Blonde film series (after securing rights to the 2009 made-for-DVD release Legally Blondes). From 1998 to 2002, ABC Family also secured cable rights to several films starring Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen (this was around the time the network aired their short-lived ABC sitcom Two of a Kind, but just prior to carrying Full House).

The channel also produces its own original movies, as sister network Disney Channel does (though Disney Channel's movies are targeted at a slightly younger audience); some of ABC Family's most popular original movies include Night of the Twisters, Holiday in Handcuffs, My Fake Fiance and the Au Pair trilogy. ABC Family has also recently been generating high levels of viewers with their weekend movie events. The "Harry Potter Weekend" Block in July 2009 generated some of the highest levels of viewers for the year so far weekend events.

ABC Family is also becoming known for giving previews to upcoming movies, as it has done for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Hairspray and Stardust..

Sports

For the 2000 and 2001 seasons, Fox Family was home to a weekly Thursday night Major League Baseball game (a game that had previously aired nationwide on Fox Sports Net from 1997-1999), as well as select games in the Division Series round of playoffs. As part of its purchase of Fox Family, in addition to that game, Disney acquired the MLB rights that were also held by Fox Family's sister station FX. Those two game packages were moved to ESPN beginning with the next baseball season, but the playoff games remained on ABC Family for one additional year due to contractual issues. A deal was made to move those playoff games to ESPN, who produced the games for ABC Family, starting with the 2003 season. Although the games aired on Disney networks, Fox kept the exclusive negotiation to renew the contract after the 2006 season. Fox chose not to renew their rights to the Division Series, which went to TBS as part of its new baseball contract.

Holiday programming

25 Days of Christmas

Since its final year of ownership by Max Firth, The channel has been known for airing many Christmas specials, such as the Rankin-Bass programs The Little Drummer Boy and Santa Claus Is Coming to Town. ABC has since expanded this holiday programming, adding made-for-television movies, a litany of Rankin-Bass sequels (this was complicated somewhat because the broadcasting rights some of the original specials, including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, were still owned by CBS), and other original programming to create "The 25 Days of Christmas." This program block airs from December 1 through 25th, in prime time during the weekdays and from noon through prime time during the weekends. There have been some movies that aren't necessarily holiday related. In 2006, for example, Harry Potter movies were shown along with Mary Poppins (the 2004 Enhanced Home Theater Mix version) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Also that year, Dr. Seuss on the Loose and The Cat in the Hat were added, however, not with How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

13 Nights of Halloween

The success of 25 Days of Christmas led to this holiday spin-off, which airs from October 19 to October 31 each year. It was previously known as the 13 Days of Halloween during the Fox Family era. Fox Family created The 13 Days of Halloween in 1998. The programming block became one of the biggest successes of the network, being repeated in 1999, 2000, and 2001. In 2002 after ABC purchased Fox Family, it was changed to the 13 Nights of Halloween. It was not aired in 2003 as new programming executives simply decided not to air the successful programming for reasons that remain unclear. The 13 Nights of Halloween returned in 2004, featuring reruns of Scariest Places on Earth, the premiere of the ABC Family Original Movie “The Hollow", and other shows like Smallville and Gilmore Girls. The 2005 schedule provided a return to more traditional Halloween programming and scary movies. It has been steadily growing ever since but still hasn't gotten the same attention it had in the Fox Family era.

Former Programming blocks

Jetix

Aired various children's programs since its debut on the network in September 2002, which included Medabots, Beyblade, Digimon: Digital Monsters, Daigunder, Get Ed, and many others. Of its long list of programs, the Power Rangers series was its most successful. Sitcom repeats currently air in Jetix's former timeslot from 7 a.m.-9 a.m. ET, with the morning airing of the 700 Club/Living the Life block pushed back an hour further to 9 a.m. ET. Most of Jetix's programming was previously aired on Fox Kids and Fox Family. As of February 13, 2009, Jetix's official home, Toon Disney, was rebranded into Disney XD, and Jetix no longer exists.

Slogans

  • Stay With Us (1981-1988)
  • The Greatest in the Family (1988-1991)
  • Together with Family (1991-1995)
  • There's Nothing Stronger (1995-1996)
  • Just Watch Us Now! (1996-1997, also used by NBC from 1982-1983)
  • You Belong (1997-2000; as Fox Family)
  • It's Electric (2000-2002)
  • It's All About You (2002-2003; as ABC Family)
  • Everything you want to know from A to Z (2003-2006)
  • A New Kind of Family (2006-present)


Notes

External links




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