Disney-owned cable network ABC Family will change its name to Freeform in January.
Network president Tom Ascheim told ABC News that although the name is not an issue for current viewers, people who do not watch on a regular basis believe it airs exclusively family-friendly programming.
The network, which will start promoting the impending rebrand immediately, is best known for popular scripted series such as Pretty Little Liars and The Fosters.
Earlier this year, the network bolstered its unscripted programming by recruiting former Nigel Lythgoe Productions exec Kary McHoul for the newly created role of senior VP of unscripted programming and development. Recent unscripted titles include Becoming Us (pictured), Startup U, Job or No Job and Monica the Medium.
The boost is part of an overall plan to double the amount of original programming it commissions over the next four years.
The network’s history dates back to the early 1970s when it was part of Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network and was rebranded as The Family Channel in 1990. Fox bought the network in 1997, renamed it Fox Family and then sold it in 2001 to Disney, which rebranded it as ABC Family.
ABC Family began targeting millennials 11 years ago but believes that in five years that demo will represent less than half of its target. As of April, the channel began aiming programming at viewers aged 14 to 34 – a younger group it has dubbed “becomers.”
To complement the rebrand, the publishing division of parent company Disney is launching a related imprint also called Freeform.