These are television networks proceeding ABC Family.
In September 1981, the format and the name were changed for the first time. CBN Cable Network became an entertainment cable network, providing family programming. The network continued to offer religious shows about a third of the day. The entertainment shows included classic sitcoms from the 1950s, westerns, reruns of game shows, old movies, and some family drama shows, as well as a handful of Christian or family-friendly animation series (including some anime, such as CBN's own co-productions with Tatsunoko Production in Japan, Superbook and The Flying House). Under the new format, the CBN Cable Network grew from 28 million households in May 1985, to 35.8 million in May 1987, and by the early 1990s, 47.6 million households.
On August 1 1988, the word family was incorporated into the name to better reflect the format, becoming The CBN Family Channel. Commercials were changed as well, showing "Family Moments" (Such as a family playing checkers, a grandfather bonding with his grandson, and a mother hugging her daughter on her wedding day) By 1990, the network had grown too profitable to remain under the CBN banner without endangering CBN's nonprofit status. At that point, the 1950s sitcoms and westerns were scaled back for more recent drama shows as well as cartoons and (later) game shows (with a mix of both original programming, like Trivial Pursuit and Shop 'til You Drop and reruns of older programming like Jim Lange's Name That Tune and Let's Make a Deal). CBN spun it off to a new company called International Family Entertainment (run by Robertson's son, Tim), and the name was changed to simply The Family Channel.
In 1993, a UK version of the channel launched. It is now known as Challenge. The network gained more visibility when, for several years in the mid-1990s, it was the primary sponsor of Ted Musgrave's #16 Ford in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series.
It was sold to Fox Broadcasting Company and Haim Saban in July 1997, and it changed its name to Fox Family. The change from The Family Channel to Fox Family became official on August 15 1998 at 12 P.M. at the same time MTM Enterprises was sold to 20th Century Fox Film Corporation. As The Family Channel, it attracted an older audience not sought by advertisers, but only about one-third of homes watching the network included kids. The 700 Club was scaled back to twice a day. Columbo was moved from 9 pm to 10 pm on Sundays. More cartoons were added to the lineup, many of which were from the Fox Kids library. The network was running about 8 hours of cartoons a day. However, Fox Family also became a cornerstone for syndicating foreign TV series, such as the popular British S Club 7 TV series, which became their flagship series for the channel until the new millennium. The channel also syndicated many Canadian TV series, both animated and live action, including Angela Anaconda, Big Wolf on Campus, I Was a 6th Grade Alien, and briefly, The Zack Files. They Even showed Cartoons and Anime Based on Video Games like: Donkey Kong Country, Megaman, and Monster Rancher. Most of these were a part of the channel's morning line-up, which also included the original series, The Great Pretenders. The company aired reruns of some of Fox Kids's shows such as Bobby's World, Eek! The Cat, and Life with Louie. They also added some recent family sitcoms as well. When Fox bought the channel in 1997, programmers sought a new dual audience — kids in daytime, families at night. In 1999, Fox tried to spin off two digital cable networks from Fox Family, the Boyz Channel and the Girlz Channel, which both contained content focusing on each sex; both networks went off the air a year later due to lack of demand and the controversy that developed over the sex-segregated channels.
In the late 1990s, Fox Family aired Major League Baseball games, usually on Thursday or Saturday nights, alternating with sister network FX. Starting with the 2001 season, the network also showed games from the first round of the playoffs, the Division Series, which did not air on FOX.
As part of the agreement when International Family Entertainment sold the network to Fox, The 700 Club aired twice every weekday; live at 10 a.m. Eastern, then repeated at 11 p.m. Eastern. They also aired occasional weekend-long CBN telethons as part of the deal (and continue to do so in the ABC Family era). This arrangement frustrated Fox to no end, as it broke up any attempt to build programming continuity.
Fox created a films division for the channel, Fox Family Films, which created films aimed towards different age groups, mainly children, including The Addams Family Reunion, which was shown in its inauguration of the channel, and compiled the episodes from the Digimon TV series to create Digimon: The Movie. For a more teen audience they created Ice Angel a TV movie about a hockey player reborn as a woman synchronized skater, as well as Don't Look Behind You. Fox Family also aired they wide array of Saban made movies as well as airing many direct-to-video 20th Century Fox films, including Richie Rich's Christmas Wish, Casper: A Spirited Beginning, and Like Father, Like Santa.
In 1998, Fox Family introduced one of their most successful ideas, The 13 Nights of Halloween Special, which was what introduced their TV Series, The New Addams Family, and some of their new movies, like Casper Meets Wendy. This continues to be one of the most successful programming blocks to date for the current channel, ABC Family.
In August 1999, the channel had the highest number of viewers at that point in its network history, with the TV movie Au Pair.
In 2000, Fox Family showed a new visual style in an attempt to attract an older audience. They bought the syndication rights to the CBS TV series Early Edition, two ABC series: My So-Called Life and Step by Step (which still airs on ABC Family as of today since early 2001), Also airing NBC TV Series Freaks and Geeks, including episodes that were unaired, and more "romantic comedy" themed original movies. Keeping kids and families in mind, they introduced the show State of Grace and the Fox Family's Summer High School Countdown programming block for teens (which introduced the Swedish singing group Play). However, the idea was unsuccessful, as a year later, Fox Family was sold to Disney, and State of Grace was only kept for one more season.
Under Fox's ownership, Fox Family saw its ranking slide from 10th to 17th place as a result of an increasingly competitive race for younger viewers and the bickering over ownership between News Corp. and Haim Saban. Some observers believe that it chased away some of the older viewers and never really replaced the core audience. As a result, prime time ratings declined 35% in the past three years. It is also suggested that Fox hired more employees then they needed, and when Disney took over, as many as 500 were laid off (This was also a time when Disney itself was downsizing, with 400 others laid off from its failed Go Network) but Fox Family also used many freelancers for certain aspects of the channel, such as their short-lived "block jocks" and most of the monikers for the network were created by freelance artists. However, the Disney acquisition took the channel into a deeper demise in its early years.
Due to the disagreements with Fox, Fox Family was sold to ABC in July 2002 for $3.2 billion. The sale to ABC included the Fox Kids Network (a joint venture of Fox and Saban) which provided the new ABC Family with hours of children's programming. The few Fox Kids shows ABC Family aired were broadcast under the Jetix action banner, until their final airing on August 31 2006 when they were moved to Toon Disney, beginning September 2 2006. ABC Family also inherited the Fox Family baseball playoff coverage with the telecasts being produced by sister network ESPN, who took over the rights to the package beginning in 2002. However, ABC Family still air The 700 Club every weekday, with subsequent repeats at 11 p.m. (ET). The network now runs family movies, 1990s family sitcoms, teen shows, and some drama shows.