The ABC family name exists no more as of Jan. 12, giving way to Freeform. While it has sparked considerable derision from the tweeting classes, Freeform won out from around 3,000 names, says Tom Ascheim, channel president. The process took about a year. Branding firm Lexicon orchestrated the renaming, which included whittling the list to a dozen and testing the entries with 2,000 people in the channel’s target audience.
Ascheim was not surprised by the Freeform backlash, which is typical any time a channel renames. “Everybody hates change, then seems to get around it pretty quickly,” he says.
He makes a compelling case as to why the ABC Family moniker had to go—its target group, socalled “becomers” between 14 and 34, are distancing themselves from their birth families on one end and may not have started their own on the other. They’re not likely in a “Family” state of mind.
“We felt like there was a perception gap between the people who like us and the people who didn’t yet know us,” he says.
Ascheim won’t divulge the short-list entries, but will share one discarded name on the long list: Alice, as in the free spirit of Wonderland. It was shot down for a host of reasons, including legal ones. “She’s the original becomer,” says Ascheim. “It made us laugh.”
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.