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ABC Family Shifts Focus to ‘Becomers’; Plans for Year-Round Scheduling and Doubling Content

ABC Family Logo April 2015
Photo courtesy ABC Family

It’s upfront time in the TV biz and as networks prepare to unveil new series and seek coveted advertiser dollars, ABC Family is making a case for why Madison Avenue should take a serious look for at their newly unveiled, aggressive rebranding.

Tom Ascheim, President, ABC Family, announced today that his network intends to double down its target 12-34 demographic by shifting focus to a new demo of sorts, dubbed ‘Becomers,’ in addition to doubling the amount of original programming it offers over the next four years and expand the amount of serialized dramas, comedies and unscripted series it offers year round.

“We are renewing our focus on an especially vibrant and important part of the consuming public, whom we have named ‘Becomers,’ and are committing to this life stage rather than to a generation,” said Ascheim. Becomers are exploring and establishing who they are becoming –personally, professionally and romantically — they live in that magical and messy place between their first kiss and their first kid.”

Tom Ascheim

ABC FAMILY – ABC Family stars appeared at the network’s upfront event held on Tuesday, April 14, 2015, at SIR Stage 37 in New York City. The network announced its
summer schedule, kicking off the new, year-round programming strategy.
(ABC Family/ Heidi Gutman)
TOM ASCHEIM (President, ABC Family)

The ‘Becomer’ target will be less about the age group represented and more about the stage of life viewers in the range are experiencing. ‘Becomers’ make up high schoolers, college students and the range of adulthood in the decade that follows. Navigating life during that time is a mix of excitement, fear, fun, happiness and sadness – a scary time in life when people experience the most first – first car, first apartment, first job, first love, first heartbreak – all the firsts existing between who they are and who they want to become (get it now?). ABC Family touts ‘Becomers’ at 69 million strong in the US, with an estimated spending power in the trillions.

It was eleven years ago that ABC Family began courting Millennials – young viewers born after the 1980s– as its core. Today, nearly 70% of 12-34 year-olds are Millennials but in five years, Millennials will be less than half of the target. Therein lies the major reason behind this shift. As the core ages out, the network must find a new group to replace it.

Part of the network’s plan to reach becomers is to engage them where they spend most of their time – on their devices. Ascheim says the network will “serve their modern media habits with gusto by reconceiving our WATCH ABC Family app as a marriage of content and fandom that will make it a vital part of their viewing habit.” The new ABC Family app is expected to launch in the summer with a “new look, feel and user experience, making it the ultimate fan destination by driving faster, deeper engagement with the programs our viewers love,” as stated in the network’s release.

New features will include:

  • An enhanced video player bringing flexibility to the viewing experience. Users can browse the app in portrait mode while their content plays, or rotate their screen to view full-screen mode.
  • Curated photo  and  video  feeds  for  every episode,  featuring  our  most  popular  posts  from Instagram, Twitter and other social platforms.
  • 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 ability to personalize  the viewing experience  by “favoriting” a show,  which allows  those super fans first access to content.
  • Official curated clips and insider  content expanding ABC Family’s  digital footprint tuned  for mobile and social.

The network will also undergo an aesthetic revamp with new graphics (see lead image) described as “more textured and organic, combined with a color palette of deep, varied hues.”

The creative philosophy of the brand is to be conversational, immersive, unpredictable, immediate, emotional and fun. ABC Family talent will be showcased in a new brand campaign that presents the stars in a more relatable and less artificial way – it is a ‘selfie’ approach rather than a ‘portrait’ approach. The look and feel aligns ABC Family’s brand essence with Becomers and captures the casual, vital and urgent way young people interact with one another (see the new network campaign below).

Ryan White-Nobles
Ryan White-Nobles is Editor-in-Chief of TV Source Magazine. He's began covering entertainment and soap operas in 2005. In 2009 he co-launched Soap Opera Source, and led the TV Source rebrand in 2012. He's a natural #Heel who loves a spirited debate and probably watches too much TV. Follow him on Twitter at @SourceRyan to discuss all things TV, soaps, sports, wrestling and pop culture.

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