Upfronts 2015: ABC Family Shifts Focus to Target ‘Becomers’

After exclusively targeted Millennials for the last decade, ABC Family is shifting its focus to what the network labels as "Becomers."

While nearly 70% of 12-34 year-olds are Millennials today, in five years, they will be less than half of the target. ABC Family says 69 million people fall under its "Becomers" term, with an estimated spending power in the trillions.

“We do not want to chase a generation out into eternity,” ABC Family president Tom Ascheim told B&C. “It is a shifting universe.”

Ascheim says this group spends about four hours a day watching TV and another three hours on its mobile devices. “This is the generation that grew up with social media as part of their norm,” he continued. “They are not just digital natives, they’re social authors.”

To that end, ABC Family will relaunch an upgraded version of its Watch ABC Family app this summer, which features a new interactive program guide that will enable viewers watching the network’s live stream to explore the rest of the app’s content. The goal of the new app is further blend dynamic content with social functionality.

“A lot of the behavior that we’re addressing is the idea that [Becomers] really want to talk about the shows that they’re watching,” says Ascheim.

This summer, ABC Family will premiere its first procedural drama in Stichers and the transgender series Becoming Us (formerly My Transparent Life). Comedy Kevin From Work, and reality series Job or No JobMonica the MediumStartup U and Next Step Realty: NYC will join the lineup as well.

Charlie’s Angels director McG, who also has TV credits on The O.C., Chuck and Supernatural, will helm the first episode of ABC Family’s Shadowhunters. The Mortal Instruments spinoff will begin production in May and debut along with scripted drama Recovery Road in early 2016.

“Really baked into our development strategy now — both in scripted and unscripted now — are ideas about how our audience can engage with the show both online and on our linear channels,” added Karey Burke, ABC Family’s executive VP, programming and development. “[Our audience] demands it.”

Last week, ABC Family ordered pilots for Gorgeous Morons and Beyond. The network is also developing projects with Christina Aguilera, Eva Longoria, Irving Azoff, Maker Studios and Pretty Little Liars’ I. Marlene King.

In event programming, ABC Family will produce I Heart Disney with Nigel Lythgoe and David Foster, which will feature pop stars singing classic Disney songs.