|Launched||March 23, 2012|
|Owned by||Corus Entertainment|
|Picture format||1080i HDTV|
(downscaled to letterboxed 480i for the SDTV feed)
|Slogan||Life just got brighter|
|Bell TV||Channel 560 (SD)|
Channel 1650 (HD)
|Shaw Direct||Channel 188 / 537 (SD) |
Channel 73 / 573 (HD)
|Available on most cable systems||Channel slots vary on each operator|
|Bell Aliant Fibe TV||Channel 261 (SD)|
Channel 508 (HD)
|Bell Fibe TV||Channel 564 (SD)|
Channel 1564 (HD)
|Bell MTS||Channel 42 (SD)|
Channel 44 (HD)
|Sasktel||Channel 139 (SD)|
|Optik TV||Channel 9327 (SD)|
Channel 327 (HD)
|V Media||Channel 58 (HD)|
|Zazeen||Channel 135 (HD)|
ABC Spark is based on the U.S. subscription channel Freeform (previously known as ABC Family) and primarily consists of programming aimed at teenagers and preteens, as well as programs aimed towards families. The channel's name and various programs are licensed from Walt Disney Television, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company.
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. The use of the name "ABC Spark", as opposed to "ABC Family", is presumably to avoid any confusion with Family Channel, which at the time aired programming from ABC Family's sibling, Disney Channel. The channel's broadcast licence, tentatively known then as Harmony, was approved by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in February 2012.
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 Corus-owned sister channels YTV, W Network, and CMT. The channel was owned by Corus (51%) and Shaw Media (49%) at launch on March 26, 2012.
Transfer of ABC Spark license; 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 license to the numbered company which previously owned Dusk, which is 51% owned by Corus and 49% owned by Shaw Media. 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 Séries+, while Corus would sell their 22.58% stake in Food Network. In total, Shaw would receive net proceeds of approximately $95 million in cash. The sale of the portion of ABC Spark closed in April 2013.
Expanded relationship with Disney; first original series (2015–2016)
In April 2015, Corus Entertainment expanded 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.
In October 2015, ABC Family announced plans to change its name to "Freeform" in January 2016. ABC Spark did not adopt the Freeform name, but it did adopt the on-air imaging used by the U.S. network.
ABC Spark carries most of the original programs produced for Freeform in the U.S (Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists premieres on W Network), 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.
- Punter, Jennie (October 26, 2011). "ABC Spark launches in Canada". Variety. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
- "Press Release - Corus Entertainment Receives CRTC Approval on TELETOON Canada Inc., Historia and Séries+ Acquisitions". Corus Entertainment. Retrieved December 22, 2013.
- ABC partners with Corus to launch youth network in Canada Los Angeles Times October 26, 2011
- Vlessing, Etan (October 26, 2011). "ABC Spark To Launch in Canada in Spring 2012". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
- Whittock, Jesse (June 1, 2012). "Canada lights up for ABC Spark". c21media. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
- Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2012-93 CRTC February 14, 2012
- "Corus' ABC Spark to launch March 26th". Broadcaster Magazine. January 5, 2012. Archived from the original on March 12, 2016. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
- Wedge, Pip. "ABC Spark". broadcasting-history.ca. Canadian Communications Foundation. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
- Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (April 10, 2012). "Broadcasting notice of consultation CRTC 2012-212". Retrieved April 11, 2012.
- 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.
- "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.
- "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.
- Dickson, Jeremy (August 21, 2015). "DHX TV reveals fall skeds for rebranded channels". Kid Screen. Retrieved August 21, 2015.
- Lesley Goldberg (October 6, 2015). "ABC Family Changing Its Name to Freeform". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media.
- Alessi, Sara (October 30, 2015). "Production Begins on ABC Spark's First Original Series". World Screen. WSN INC. Retrieved November 2, 2015.