ABC Spark

ABC Spark
Launched March 23, 2012 (2012-03-23)
Owned by Corus Entertainment
(branding licensed from The Walt Disney Company)
Picture format 1080i (HDTV)
480i (SDTV)
Slogan Life Just Got Brighter
Country Canada
Language English
Broadcast area Nationwide
Headquarters Toronto, Ontario
Replaced Dusk
Sister channel(s)
Website ABC Spark
Bell TV Channel 560 (SD)
Channel 1650 (HD)
Shaw Direct Channel 188 / 537 (SD)
Channel 73 / 573 (HD)
Available on many Canadian cable systems Check local listings, channels may vary
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 a Canadian English-language Category B digital cable and satellite television specialty channel which is owned by Corus Entertainment. The channel launched on March 23, 2012, replacing Dusk.[1][2]

ABC Spark is based on the U.S. cable network 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 the Disney–ABC Television Group, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company.[3]


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.[4] The use of the name "ABC Spark", as opposed to "ABC Family", is presumably to avoid any confusion with Family, which at the time aired programming from ABC Family's sibling, Disney Channel.[5] The channel's broadcast licence, tentatively known then as Harmony, was approved by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in February 2012.[6]

Prior to the announcement of the channel's launch, original programming from ABC Family had been airing in Canada on other specialty channels, including the Bell Media-owned MuchMusic. 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 16, 2012 on Corus-owned sister channels YTV, W Network, and CMT.[7] The channel was owned by Corus (51%) and Shaw Media (49%) at launch on Monday, March 26, 2012.[8]

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.[9][10] 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.[11] The sale of the portion of ABC Spark closed in April 2013.[2]

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.[12][13]

In October 2015, ABC Family announced plans to change its name to "Freeform" in January 2016.[14] ABC Spark did not adopt the Freeform name, but it did adopt the on-air imaging used by the U.S. network.

In November 2015, ABC Spark announced its first original series entitled Cheer Squad, a docu-reality series which first premiered on July 5, 2016.[15]


Programming on ABC Spark consists primarily of various comedies (Baby Daddy and Melissa & Joey) and dramas (Switched at Birth and The Fosters) produced and shown by Freeform. ABC Spark's programming schedule also consists of syndicated third-party programs, and original series produced by other Corus-owned channels. The channel also holds its own versions of Freeform's 13 Nights of Halloween and 25 Days of Christmas events, which broadcast special programming during the lead-up to the Halloween and Christmas holidays. ABC Spark does not air Rudolph the red nosed reindeer (1964 version) during its 25 days of Christmas, as CBC, Ici Radio Canada Tele, YTV and Teletoon air it unlike freeform in the United States.


  1. Punter, Jennie (October 26, 2011). "ABC Spark launches in Canada". Variety. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
  2. 1 2 "Press Release - Corus Entertainment Receives CRTC Approval on TELETOON Canada Inc., Historia and Séries+ Acquisitions". Retrieved 2013-12-22.
  3. ABC partners with Corus to launch youth network in Canada Los Angeles Times 2011-10-26
  4. Vlessing, Etan (October 26, 2011). "ABC Spark To Launch in Canada in Spring 2012". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
  5. Whittock, Jesse (June 1, 2012). "Canada lights up for ABC Spark". c21media. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
  6. Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2012-93 CRTC 2012-02-14
  7. "Corus' ABC Spark to Launch March 26th". Broadcaster Magazine. January 5, 2012. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
  8. Wedge, Pip. "ABC Spark". Canadian Communications Foundation. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
  9. Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (2012-04-10). "Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2012-212". Retrieved 2012-04-11.
  10. Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (2010-05-20). "Financial Summaries: Dusk (formerly Scream), 3924181 Canada Inc". Archived from the original on 2010-08-31. Retrieved 2012-04-11.
  11. "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.
  12. "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.
  13. Dickson, Jeremy (August 21, 2015). "DHX TV reveals fall skeds for rebranded channels". Kid Screen. Retrieved August 21, 2015.
  14. Lesley Goldberg (October 6, 2015). "ABC Family Changing Its Name to Freeform". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media.
  15. Alessi, Sara (October 30, 2015). "Production Begins on ABC Spark's First Original Series". World Screen. WSN INC. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
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