ABC Family officially transitioned to Freeform on Tuesday night with continued strong ratings for the winter premiere of “Pretty Little Liars” and a promising start for new drama “Shadowhunters,” which seemed to benefit from facing the wall-to-wall coverage of the State of the Union on the broadcast networks in much of the country.
The network will release “live plus-3” estimates next week, but in same-night Nielsen estimates, “Pretty Little Liars” opened things for Freeform as the night’s No. 1 cable program in adults 18-49 (1.06 rating), up a bit from last year’s midseason premiere (0.95). Its 2.25 million total viewers was also up vs. last year (2.01 million). The show, which fast-forwarded its storyline by five years, had finished last summer’s season especially strong, hitting a nearly two-year high in 18-49 (1.39) and a 19-month high in total viewers (3.12 million).
“Liars” stood as Tuesday’s No. 1 telecast in adults 18-34 (963,000/1.4 rating), women 18-34 (758,000/2.2 rating), viewers 12-34 (1.45 million/1.6 rating) and females 12-34 (1.20 million/2.6 rating).
It was followed by the debut of “Shadowhunters” (0.76 rating in 18-49, 1.82 million viewers overall), which retained a good 72% of its “Liars” lead-in among adults 18-49. The fantasy drama about a human-angel hybrid who hunts demos also out-rated other recent premieres behind “Pretty Little Liars” including “Stitchers” last June (0.53 in 18-49, 1.28 million) and “Twisted” in 2013 (0.52 in 18-49, 1.60 million).
“Shadowhunters” (pictured) didn’t hold as much of “Pretty Little Liars” in the 18-34 age group (55%, 0.78 vs. 1.41), but its rating in the demo makes it the No. 4-rated scripted cable launch of the past 12 months — behind only AMC’s “Fear the Walking Dead,” “Better Call Saul” and “Into the Badlands.”
It also brought more men and older adults to the network. In fact, “Shadowhunters” actually built on its veteran “Liars” lead-in among men 25-54 (0.54 vs. 0.49).
ABC Family opted for the name change to cultivate a fresh, hipper brand, network president Tom Ascheim told reporters at this month’s TCA tour stop in Pasadena.
The social media-savvy network celebrated its transition with a daylong virtual event and partnerships including a Social DNA Project with Twitter; a live stream of events via Periscope; a Vine booth; a BuzzFeed Facebook Live chat and a custom “Pretty Little Liars” Facebook icon; Instagram content and talent takeovers; and a “Pretty Little Liars” Snapchat filter.
Freeform was the most talked about TV network across social media Tuesday, garnering more than one-quarter on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Tumbler (26.9%) and delivering. It also delivered the top two most-social entertainment series across Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter with “Pretty Little Liars” (5.8 million engagements) and “Shadowhunters” (1.1 million engagements).