ABC partners with Corus to launch youth network in Canada

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Hoping to build on its success drawing the young-adult crowd, the ABC Television Group said Wednesday it was planning to launch a new network next spring in Canada called ABC Spark.

The Walt Disney Co. unit is partnering on the channel with Corus Entertainment, a publicly traded Toronto-based company, which owns radio stations and TV programming services. Disney will license its content to the service, and Corus will line up distribution.


Financial details were not disclosed.

The venture aims to create a 24-hour network modeled after Disney’s hugely successful ABC Family cable channel. The new advertising supported service will include some of ABC Family’s programming that appeals to the millennial generation -- people born roughly between the years 1980 and 2002.

ABC Family has enjoyed substantial ratings growth in recent years in that demographic with such programming as ‘Switched at Birth,’ and ‘The Secret Life of the American Teenager.’

“We are very pleased to work with Corus in bringing ABC Family’s well-known, popular programming into the Canadian marketplace,” Janice Marinelli, Disney-ABC Domestic Television president, said in a statement distributed by ABC. Her group is the content distribution arm for Disney in the U.S. and Canada.

ABC said the deal marks the first time the two companies have collaborated to create a 24-hour channel. Corus has relationships with other U.S. programmers, including Time Warner Inc.’s HBO, Viacom Inc.’s Nickelodeon and the Discovery Communications Inc.’s Oprah Winfrey cable channel OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.

“Bridging the gap between our kids and women’s networks, ABC Spark will be a national service with compelling programming directed at the fast-expanding millennial generation,” Doug Murphy, Corus Television president, said in the statement.

Disney said the millennial group includes about 85 million young adults in the U.S. and another 10 million in Canada. In recent years, television companies and marketers have been clamoring to reach the youth generation.


-- Meg James