Television networks preceding ABC Family: Wikis

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The cable television network ABC Family has gone through several different owners during its history. Stipulations in sales terms for the network require that the network maintain the word "Family" in its name.

Contents

CBN Cable (Network)

The network was founded by Pat Robertson on April 29, 1977 as the CBN Satellite Service, an arm of his Christian Broadcasting Network. It was the first satellite-launched basic-cable network. The network offered only Christian programs when it first began. The offerings included The 700 Club three times a day along with many well known and lesser-known television evangelists. As a result, a few evangelists began making Monday-through-Friday programs. The CBN Satellite Service grew to 10.9 million homes by May 1981.

In September 1981, the network relaunched as CBN Cable Network, a "family-friendly" entertainment network. The network continued to offer religious shows about a third of the day. The entertainment shows included classic sitcoms from the 1950s, westerns, reruns of game shows, old movies, and some family drama shows, as well as a handful of Christian or family-friendly animation series (including some anime, such as CBN's own co-productions with Tatsunoko Production in Japan, Superbook and The Flying House). Under the new format, the CBN Cable Network grew from 28 million households in May 1985, to 35.8 million in May 1987.

The Family Channel

The Family Channel logo used from 1988-1998. The CBN portion of the channel name was on the logo until 1990.

On August 1, 1988, the word "Family" was incorporated into the name to better reflect the format, becoming The CBN Family Channel. Commercials were changed as well, showing "Family Moments" (Such as a family playing checkers, a grandfather bonding with his grandson, and a woman hugging her husband on her wedding day).

By 1990, the network had grown too profitable to remain under the CBN banner without endangering CBN's non-profit status. CBN spun it off to a new company called International Family Entertainment Inc. (run by Robertson's son, Tim), and the name was changed to simply The Family Channel. The network gained more visibility when, for several years in the mid-1990s, it was the primary sponsor of Ted Musgrave's #16 Ford in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. At that point, the 1950s sitcoms and westerns were scaled back for more recent drama shows as well as cartoons and (later) game shows (with a mix of both original programming, like Trivial Pursuit and Shop 'til You Drop and reruns of older programming like Jim Lange's Name That Tune and Let's Make a Deal).

In fact, the game show block consisted of the games listed above and also the later era of Split Second and other shows especially produced for the channel such as Shopping Spree, Small Talk, Wait 'Til You Have Kids and a revival of It Takes Two, hosted by Dick Clark.

By the early 1990s, it was seen in 47.6 million households. As The Family Channel, it attracted an older audience not sought by advertisers; only about one-third of homes watching the network included children or youth. In 1993, a UK version of the channel launched, eventually turning into a network dedicated to game shows known as Challenge. The logo was a blue ring with "The" written on the top and "Channel" at the bottom and on it is the word "Family" written in a script font and its color was a blending yellow and red color.

Fox Family

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Early programming

Fox Family Channel logo from August 1998-January 2000.
Fox Family Worldwide logo

It was sold to Fox Kids Worldwide Inc in July 1997, and Fox Kids Worldwide Inc was renamed Fox Family Worldwide Inc. The Family Channel was renamed to Fox Family Channel on August 15, 1998 at 12 p.m.[1] at the same time MTM Enterprises was sold to 20th Century Fox Film Corporation.

The 700 Club was scaled back to twice a day. Columbo was moved from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays. More cartoons were added to the lineup, many of which were from the Fox Kids library. The network was running about 8 hours of cartoons a day. However, Fox Family also became a cornerstone for syndicating foreign TV series, such as the popular British S Club 7 TV series, which became their flagship series for the channel until the new millennium. The channel also syndicated many Canadian TV series, both animated and live action, including Angela Anaconda, Big Wolf on Campus, I Was a 6th Grade Alien, and briefly, The Zack Files. They even showed cartoons and anime based on video games, such as Donkey Kong Country, Megaman, and Monster Rancher. Most of these were a part of the channel's morning line-up, which also included the original series, The Great Pretenders. The company aired reruns of some of Fox Kids's shows such as Bobby's World, Eek! The Cat, and Life with Louie. They also added some recent family sitcoms as well. When Fox bought the channel in 1997, programmers sought a new dual audience — kids in daytime, families at night.[2]

In 1999, Fox tried to spin off two digital cable networks from Fox Family, the Boyz Channel and the Girlz Channel, which both contained content focusing on each sex; both networks went off the air a year later due to lack of demand and the controversy that developed over the sex-segregated channels.[3][4] To a point, Disney is attempting to relaunch the concept somewhat in February 2009 with the conversion of Toon Disney into the tween boy-targeting Disney XD, while continuing to push Disney Channel towards an all-girls focus.

Major League Baseball

In the late 1990s, Fox Family aired Major League Baseball games, usually on Thursday or Saturday nights, alternating with sister network FX. Starting with the 2001 season, the network also showed games from the first round of the playoffs, the Division Series, which did not air on Fox.

Among the games that aired on Fox Family was the San Francisco Giants at Houston Astros on October 4, 2001. That night, Barry Bonds hit his 70th home run of the season, which tied the all-time single season record that Mark McGwire had set only three years earlier. (Bonds broke the record the next night.)

The 700 Club

As part of the agreement when International Family Entertainment sold the network to Fox, The 700 Club aired twice every weekday; live at 10 a.m. Eastern, then repeated at 11 p.m. Eastern.[2] It also aired occasional weekend-long CBN telethons as part of the deal (and continues to do so in the ABC Family era).

Fox Family Films

Fox created a films division for the channel, Fox Family Films, which created films aimed towards different age groups, mainly children, including The Addams Family Reunion, which was shown in its inauguration of the channel, and compiled the episodes from the Digimon TV series to create Digimon: The Movie. For a more teen audience they created Ice Angel, a TV movie about a hockey player reborn as a woman synchronized skater, as well as Don't Look Behind You. Fox Family also aired they wide array of Saban made movies as well as airing many direct-to-video 20th Century Fox films, including Richie Rich's Christmas Wish, Casper: A Spirited Beginning, and Like Father, Like Santa.

In August 1999, the channel had the highest number of viewers at that point in its network history, with the TV movie Au Pair.[5]

The 13 Days of Halloween

In 1998, Fox Family introduced one of their most successful ideas, The 13 Days of Halloween Special, which was what introduced their television series, The New Addams Family and some of their new movies, like Casper Meets Wendy. A few years later, the new live-action Scooby-Doo film became part of its annual Halloween lineup. ABC changed the name to The 13 Nights of Halloween in 2002. This continues to be one of the most successful programming blocks to date for the current channel, ABC Family.

Change in visual style

Fox Family Channel logo from 2000-2001.

In 2000, Fox Family adopted a new visual style in an attempt to attract an older audience. They bought the syndication rights to the CBS TV series Early Edition, two ABC series: My So-Called Life and Step by Step (which aired on ABC Family till March 2010), Also airing NBC TV Series Freaks and Geeks, including episodes that were unaired, and more "romantic comedy" themed original movies. Keeping kids and families in mind, they introduced the show State of Grace and the Fox Family's Summer High School Countdown programming block for teens (which introduced the Swedish singing group Play). However, the idea was unsuccessful, as a year later, Fox Family was sold to Disney, and State of Grace was only kept for one more season.

Declining ratings

Under Fox's ownership, Fox Family saw its ranking slide from 10th to 17th place as a result of an increasingly competitive race for younger viewers and the bickering over ownership between News Corp. and Haim Saban. Some observers believe that it chased away some of the older viewers and never really replaced the core audience. As a result, prime time ratings declined 35% in the past three years. It is also suggested that Fox hired more employees then they needed, and when Disney took over, as many as 500 were laid off (This was also a time when Disney itself was downsizing, with 400 others laid off from its failed Go Network) but Fox Family also used many freelancers for certain aspects of the channel, such as their short-lived "block jocks" and most of the monikers for the network were created by freelance artists.[1] However, the Disney acquisition took the channel into a deeper demise in its early years.

Transformation to ABC Family

On July 23, 2001, it was announced that Fox Family Worldwide Inc would be sold to Disney for $2.9 billion . The sale to Disney included Saban Entertainment.[6] On October 24, 2001, the sale was completed.[7][8] The few Fox Kids shows ABC Family aired were broadcast under the Jetix action banner, until their final airing on August 31, 2006 when they were moved to Toon Disney, beginning September 2, 2006. ABC Family also inherited the Fox Family baseball playoff coverage with the telecasts being produced by sister network ESPN, who took over the rights to the package beginning in 2001. However, ABC Family still airs The 700 Club every weekday, with subsequent repeats at 11 p.m. (ET). The network now runs family movies, 1990s family sitcoms, teen shows, and some drama shows.

See also

  • Family (similar Canadian service)

References

External links


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