Cable network ABC Family went ahead with its planned rebranding and changed its name to Freeform. In tandem with the new moniker, ABC launched a mobile app that features the first two episodes of the network's newest series, Shadowhunters.
The name change is a strictly calculated move, based on Disney/ABC Television Group's audience metrics -- and it's not hard to imagine that Disney keeps a very close eye on what its audience watches and how it behaves. The digital-savvy users in the 14-34 age group that the network says predominantly watch Freeform "have the expectation that their shows will be available to them on whatever device they are on," said Tom Ascheim, network president, in a Broadcasting & Cable article.
That dynamic is what prompted the creation of Freeform's mobile app. While not an over-the-top offering -- it's strictly TV Everywhere for now -- viewers who download the app will be able to watch the first two episodes of Shadowhunters without having to authenticate -- perhaps to convince cord-shavers to keep their pay-TV subscriptions, or to onboard millennial-aged cord-nevers.
Disney/ABC was also looking to shed the family-centric image portrayed by the old name. Ascheim told Adweek in December that surveys revealed the network was mostly seen by non-viewer respondents as "family-friendly" or "wholesome." For a network whose most popular series is Pretty Little Liars, "We needed to make it feel like there's less cognitive dissonance between what you're seeing and what we're called," he said.
Disney/ABC originally announced the name change in October.
- see this Broadcasting & Cable article
ABC Family changes its name, takes a multiplatform angle
ABC Family changing name to Freeform to shake 'wholesome' image
Limelight: Content availability drives decision to cut the cord