The change is part of a massive re-branding to attract 14-34 "Becomers," with ABC Family President Tom Ascheim using a ton of buzzwords and management speak to explain why, for the first time in 27 years, the channel won't have "Family' in the name. "In many ways, this feels to us like an evolution — not a huge change," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "If we wanted to grow and reach new people, we couldn't have this very narrow sense of who we were and hope to attract new consumers. In an attempt to build on our strength and attract new folks, we thought it was time to change our name."
Apparently the core viewers understand the younger, social-media active brand while non-viewers associate it with wholesome and family-friendly programming. "We wanted to harmonize our content and out brand," Ascheim said (via Deadline). "By achieving that harmony, we would be much better positioned to keep our core viewers and add new viewers."
They even made a poster and shared a video on the transition:
It does seem like there's a lot of "try" happening. The prez said they considered about 3,000 names, and "Freeform" stood out in testing. "Freeform evokes the spirit and adventure of our audience."
You have to wonder what the other options must've been, 'cause the Internet did not respond favorably. Here's a selection of comments from Entertainment Weekly, Deadline, THR and Twitter:
Agreed about the Harry Potter issue. The rest is just noise and doesn't really affect day-to-day life.
"Freeform is the worst name I have ever heard. #lame"
"The same was said about The CW. We'll get used to it."
"Freeform sounds like a feminine hygiene product."
"I can't picture anyone saying 'Did you watch that new show on Freeform last night?'"
"'We got an overwhelmingly positive response. Freeform sounds like fun.' ...ummm I think they got trolled that's a horrible name."
"Freeform? Who tested that name to positive response? This is like when Netflix decided to change its name only to immediately back-pedal and deny ever having spent millions on re-branding to whatever horrid name they thought people would like better."
"ABC Family does deserve a name that steps away from the 'wholesome' and 'conservative' stigma that come along with the mention of 'family.' Most of the network is directly aimed at teens. ABC Teen would fit a lot better. ABC Millennium would also sound nice. Freeform sounds like a show about a Trans teen going to art school. Which is probably on its way to the production room as we speak, actually."
"Granted, I'm not their target audience, but Freeform has no immediate recognition. While that's true of most new channels, a 3 letter moniker seems to be easier to remember and can truely identify your niche. MTV was perfect, when they actually played music. Its like the new Esquire channel. The name means nothing when one looks at their schedule."
"Awful name, what the f-ck is that even suppose to mean?"
"Holy shite!! And I thought SyFy was a bad name....."
"Because Freeform is so much more memorable and descriptive than ABCFamily."
"LOL! This new name is supposed to bring in young viewers??"
"Sounds like a feminine hygiene product. What a stupid name."
"This looks like an overly self-conscious marketing presentation in a movie about advertising where the executive that created it gets deservedly fired two minutes later."
"#Freeform sounds like a new political movement than a TV network for the 18-34 demographic. #dumbname"
"sorry abc family i just cant get past the fact that freeform sounds like a bra brand for preteens"
"The choice of name is odd. But the far more pressing matter whether or not they will continue 'Harry Potter' marathons."
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