Upfronts 2015: ABC Family Sets Focus on ‘Becomers’

As millennials grow older, ABC Family is shifting its focus to a younger-skewing ‘becomers’ with a lineup of unscripted and scripted series that will allow the network to offer year-long original programming, the network said prior to its upfront presentation Tuesday in New York.

ABC Family president Tom Ascheim told Multichannel News that the network’s millennial target audience it began targeting a decade ago is now growing older – in five years millennials will be less than half of the network’s core 12-34 demo – so the network will focus on what it defines as ‘becomers’ who are just beginning to enter key stages of their lives.

“That keeps us tightly focused on the audience and the journey of that audience – it informs our programming and our marketing,” Ascheim said.

He added that the network’s “family” brand is targeted to young adult audience. “The focus is on viewers in our sweet spot, with a median age in the 20’s,” he said.  

The network is more than doubling its original content, which includes unscripted programming as well as scripted dramas and comedies, according to Karey Burke, ABC Family executive vice president of programming and development.

“We’re making more programming that has a becomer lens on it,” she said.

Among the new series set to launch this summer are Job or No Job, which follows one young adult to his/her first journey to land a job and Becoming Us, which centers on a teenager who is learning to live with his dad becoming a woman. The shows will join previously announced new summer shows Monica the Medium, Startup U,Next Step Realty: NYC, Kevin From Work and Stitchers.

Show in development for ABC Family include Hearts and Clubs, from executive producer Christina Aguilera about young performers working in Las Vegas; Famous In Love, starring Bella Thorne and based on the novel by Rebecca Serle; Sold Out, about a young band hitting the road for their first-ever tour;  I Am Maker, a docu-series that follows up and coming Youtube sensations living together and mentored by celebrity talent, Shadowhunters, a supernatural drama which follows an 18-year old who discovers she comes from a family of human-angel hybrids who hunt down demons and You Got To Work It, from actress Eva Longora that follows eight unemployed girls vying for seven job opportunities in seven industries.

Earlier this month the network said it will develop pilots for scripted series Gorgeous Morons and Beyond.

On the specials front, the network will develop We Heart Disney, a music spectacular featuring today’s biggest pop stars and classic Disney songs.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.