There are hundreds of cable channels available, which means it’s hard for some to differentiate themselves. The solution: a new name.
The Sci-Fi Channel launched in 1992 as a place for viewers to find science-fiction films and TV shows. In 2009, the channel announced that it was changing its name…but didn’t announce what the new name would be for a few weeks. In March 2009, the news was announced: It was going to be called Syfy (pronounced “sci-fi”). The main reason: “sci-fi” is a common phrase, but “Syfy” could be trademarked.
ABC Family used to be Fox Family Channel until Fox sold it to Disney, which owns ABC. (And before that it was The Family Channel, rebranded from CBN, short for Christian Broadcasting Network, one of the first cable/satellite networks since being founded in the 1970s by televangelist Pat Robertson.) Throughout all of those changes, the show remained relatively family-friendly…but not anymore. It now airs mostly salacious soaps (Pretty Little Liars, The Fosters) aimed at viewers in their 20s, and to dispel any notions that it’s a family-friendly network, the channel will be known as Freeform, beginning in 2016.
CNN went on the air in June 1980 as the first 24-hour cable news network. Not long after in 1982, the next major cable news network launched: CNN2. Casual viewers were confused as to the difference between the new networks, so CNN2 was renamed in 1983 to better reflect its format of news delivered in a brief, headline format: CNN Headline News. (As of 2008, it’s just called HLN.)