ABC Spark is a Canadian Category B digital cable and satellite television channel owned by Corus Entertainment. It is the Canadian version of Freeform (formerly ABC Family), with the name used under licence from The Walt Disney Company, the American channel's parent company.
ABC Spark signed on the air for the first time on March 23, 2012, replacing former Corus-owned channel Dusk, which had specialized in thriller/suspense/supernatural-themed movies and TV shows. To avoid confusion with existing family-oriented channel Family, Corus opted to use the name ABC Spark, rather than ABC Family, for the new channel.
ABC Spark airs many of the same teen and preteen-oriented shows aired by ABC Family/Freeform. Due to its ownership by Corus, however, ABC Spark is not subject to the requirements imposed on Freeform by the latter channel's original owner, the Christian Broadcasting Network (which first launched Freeform in 1977 under its original name CBN Satellite Service). As part of that mandate, which CBN put in place when it sold the channel in 1990 and was kept in place under subsequent owners, the word "Family" was required to be kept as part of the American channel's name in perpetuity regardless of who owns the channel or its program format (that requirement has since been dropped upon the American channel's rename in January 2016), and it is obligated to air CBN-produced shows The 700 Club and The 700 Club Interactive, along with an annual CBN telethon and other religious programming, as part of Freeform's schedule; none of that channel's religious programs air on ABC Spark.
With the recent announcement by the Walt Disney Company of its plans to rebrand ABC Family as Freeform, there is a possibility that Corus may follow suit by similarly rebranding ABC Spark, although no official announcement has yet been made regarding the channel's future.
- ABC Family changing its name to Freeform at the Hollywood Reporter