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ABC Family president Michael Riley touted the network’s success with millennials – especially young women – that allowed the Disney-owned network to launch a third night of original programming in 2011, even if they must still play host to controversial television evangelist Pat Robertson’s 700 Club.
Riley pointed to the network’s “groundbreaking storytelling,” “iconic characters” and “warm, positive, optimistic environment” epitomized in such shows as The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Switched at Birth (which bowed last summer) and newest entry Jane By Design in driving eight consecutive years of ratings growth at the network.
Last week, Pretty Little Liars and The Lying Game returned with new episodes; Lying Game hit a series high in its new time slot following Liars. And the premiere of Jane the following evening pulled in a solid 1.6 million viewers thanks in part to a strong lead-in from a new episode of Switched at Birth (2.7 million viewers), although that was down compared to the show’s summer run.
Riley also confirmed that the network is indeed working on a movie version of cancelled series The Nine Lives of Chloe King. And he noted that ABC Family will continue to look to develop its half-hour comedy slate which currently includes new entry State of Georgia and veteran multi-camera comedy Melissa & Joey.
Riley, who took the reigns at ABC Family in October 2010 after predecessor Paul Lee was bumped up to run the broadcast network, touted ABC Family’s robust digital footprint as a way to keep fans engaged with the network’s shows; Pretty Little Liars finished 2011 as the most Tweeted about show.
“Social media for us it’s about being part of that conversation,” said Riley.
Of course, ABC Family, which acquired the channel from Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, is obligated under the terms of the sale to air 700 Club, a program that it’s safe to say is not connecting with the millennial generation.
“It’s not a show that we put there,” admitted Riley. “I think most viewers understand that. They come to the network to watch the shows they want to watch.”
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