ABC Spark
CountryCanada
Broadcast areaNationwide
HeadquartersToronto, Ontario
Programming
Language(s)English
Picture format1080i HDTV
(downscaled to letterboxed 480i for the SDTV feed)
Ownership
OwnerCorus Entertainment
(branding licensed from Walt Disney Television)
Sister channels
History
LaunchedMarch 26, 2012; 11 years ago (2012-03-26)
ReplacedDusk
Links
WebsiteABC Spark

ABC Spark is a Canadian English-language discretionary specialty channel owned by Corus Entertainment. The channel was launched on March 26, 2012, replacing the declining channel Dusk.[1][2]

ABC Spark is based on the U.S. subscription channel Freeform (previously known as ABC Family) and primarily consists of programming aimed at teenagers, young adults/millennials, and preteens, as well as some sitcoms. The channel's name and various programs are licensed from the ABC Family Worldwide subsidiary of Walt Disney Television, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company.[3]

History

Announcement and launch (2011–2012)

The announcement of the formation of ABC Spark occurred on October 26, 2011, as part of a program licensing agreement between Corus Entertainment and The Walt Disney Company.[4] The use of the name "ABC Spark", as opposed to "ABC Family", is presumably to avoid any confusion with Family Channel (owned by Astral Media at the time), which at the time aired programming from ABC Family's sibling, Disney Channel.[5] The channel's broadcast licence, tentatively known then as Harmony, was approved by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in February 2012.[6]

Selected ABC Family programs that were set to air on ABC Spark began airing in special sneak preview blocks in advance of the network's launch starting on January 26, 2012, on fellow Corus channels YTV, W Network, and CMT, as they and remaining Corus-owned channels broadcast commercials about the channel.[7] The channel was owned by Corus (51%) and Shaw Media (49%) at launch on March 26, 2012.[8]

Transfer of ABC Spark licence; Corus' acquisition of Shaw Media's ownership interest (2013)

Shortly after the channel's launch, the CRTC published notice of a pending application to transfer the ABC Spark licence to the numbered company which previously owned Dusk, which is 51% owned by Corus and 49% owned by Shaw Media.[9][10] However, on March 4, 2013, Corus Entertainment announced that it would acquire Shaw Media's 49% ownership interest in ABC Spark, in a larger transaction that would see Corus also acquire Shaw's 50% interest in Historia and SériesPlus, while Corus would sell their 22.58% stake in Food Network. In total, Shaw would receive net proceeds of approximately $95 million in cash.[11] The sale of the portion of ABC Spark closed in April 2013.[2]

Expanded relationship with Disney; first original series (2015–2016)

In April 2015, Corus Entertainment announced that it would expand its relationship with Disney, and Corus acquired the rights to Disney Channel's programming and related brands, which resulted in the launch of a Canadian version of Disney Channel, and re-launched versions of Disney Junior and Disney XD after DHX Media decided against renewing their agreement to broadcast the programs in Disney's programming catalogue.[12][13]

In October 2015, ABC Family announced plans to change its name to "Freeform" in January 2016.[14] ABC Spark did not adopt the Freeform name, but it did adopt the on-air imaging used by the U.S. network.

By the end of October 2015, ABC Spark had its first original series entitled Cheer Squad, a docu-reality series which first premiered on July 5, 2016.[15]

Programming

Main article: List of programs broadcast by ABC Spark

ABC Spark carries most of the original programs produced for Freeform in the U.S. (Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists premieres on W Network),[16] including its own versions of the 31 Nights of Halloween and 25 Days of Christmas events, which broadcast special programming during the lead-up to their respective holidays. The channel's daily programming mainly consists of acquired sitcoms and dramas, as well as syndicated programs from other Corus-owned channels.

References

  1. ^ Punter, Jennie (October 26, 2011). "ABC Spark launches in Canada". Variety. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Press Release – Corus Entertainment Receives CRTC Approval on TELETOON Canada Inc., Historia and Séries+ Acquisitions". Corus Entertainment. Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved December 22, 2013.
  3. ^ ABC partners with Corus to launch youth network in Canada. Los Angeles Times. October 26. 2011.
  4. ^ Vlessing, Etan (October 26, 2011). "ABC Spark To Launch in Canada in Spring 2012". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
  5. ^ Whittock, Jesse (June 1, 2012). "Canada lights up for ABC Spark". c21media. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
  6. ^ Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2012-93 CRTC February 14, 2012
  7. ^ "Corus' ABC Spark to launch March 26th". Broadcaster Magazine. January 5, 2012. Archived from the original on March 12, 2016. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
  8. ^ Wedge, Pip. "ABC Spark". broadcasting-history.ca. Canadian Communications Foundation. Archived from the original on May 15, 2021. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
  9. ^ Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (April 10, 2012). "Broadcasting notice of consultation CRTC 2012-212". Retrieved April 11, 2012.
  10. ^ Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (May 20, 2010). "Financial summaries: Dusk (formerly Scream), 3924181 Canada Inc". Archived from the original on August 31, 2010. Retrieved April 11, 2012.
  11. ^ "Shaw, Corus and Bell ink specialty channel sales agreements". Mediacaster Magazine. Business Information Group. March 5, 2013. Archived from the original on December 24, 2013. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
  12. ^ "Corus Entertainment snaps up Disney content from DHX Media, plans to launch Disney channel in Canada". Financial Post. Postmedia Network. April 16, 2015. Retrieved April 17, 2015.
  13. ^ Dickson, Jeremy (August 21, 2015). "DHX TV reveals fall skeds for rebranded channels". Kid Screen. Retrieved August 21, 2015.
  14. ^ Lesley Goldberg (October 6, 2015). "ABC Family Changing Its Name to Freeform". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media.
  15. ^ Alessi, Sara (October 30, 2015). "Production Begins on ABC Spark's First Original Series". World Screen. WSN INC. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
  16. ^ "Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists - W Network". www.wnetwork.com. Archived from the original on September 2, 2019.