ABC's 'Black-ish' Spinoff Moving to Freeform

Black-ish Still Yara Shahidi - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of ABC

The Black-ish spinoff is going to be picked up to series — though it won't be at ABC.

The comedy starring Yara Shahidi is near a deal for a series pickup at ABC's younger-skewing corporate sibling Freeform, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

Sources said the backdoor pilot, from showrunner Kenya Barris, skewed too young to join the flagship series on the broadcast network. Freeform, which has been ramping up originals and looking for noisy fare as flagship drama Pretty Little Liars prepares to sign off, swooped in. A formal announcement could come after the upfronts.

Like The Cosby Show spinoff A Different World, the Black-ish spinoff revolves around Shahidi's Zoey Johnson as she goes off to college. Barris and former showrunner Larry Wilmore exec produced the ABC Studios comedy. Sources note Wilmore is no longer attached.

In an era of fragmented viewership and more than 450 original scripted series, spinoffs and reboots have become more common as broadcasters, cable networks and streaming services look for proven intellectual property in an attempt to break through the clutter. 

For Freeform, the Black-ish spinoff would join a roster of comedies including veteran Baby Daddy, Young and Hungry as well as the forthcoming Alone Together and Marvel's New Warriors.

Freeform declined comment. 

Flagship Black-ish, meanwhile, is considered a slam-dunk to return as the critical and awards-season darling has proven a reliable performer and already has an SVOD deal. Barris, meanwhile, recently renewed his overall deal with ABC Studios and has pilots Unit Zero (a drama) and comedy Libby and Malcolm both in consideration at ABC.

The Black-ish spinoff would become the latest pilot to jump to another network. Last season, CBS' Supergirl moved to younger-skewing The CW, with Sarah Michelle Gellar's Ringer doing the same a few years ago. Network jumping has become more commonplace in the era of Peak TV where one network's pass is another's hit as there are more places than ever to find homes for programming.