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Craig Erwich On Future Of Freeform Original Scripted Programming

Part two of Good Trouble’s fifth and final season is currently airing on Freeform, followed by Part two of grown-ish‘s sixth and final season in the spring . When it ends, so will the presence of original scripted series on the Disney cable network.

Once a destination for pop culture defining YA series such as Pretty Little Liars, Freeform over the past few years has scaled back its original scripted fare, with no current shows and no major projects in the pipeline.

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There have been a lot of questions lately about the viability of original scripted programming on ad-supported basic cable, with many networks pulling away from it due to high costs that are hard to sustain amid declining linear ratings and accelerated cord-cutting.

The prospect of Freeform maintaining an original scripted slate faced further uncertainty when the network was dropped by leading cable operator Charter in September and when its head of programming and development Jamila Hunter, a seasoned scripted executive, left a couple of months later and was not replaced. (The network’s scripted operation had been already significantly downsized in the April 2023 layoffs.) The developments sparked rumors that Freeform was getting out of the original scripted series business.

Speaking at TCA Saturday, Craig Erwich, President of Disney Television Group, who oversees Freeform, sidestepped a question about the future of original scripted shows on the network — and basic cable channels in general.

“Freeform is very dedicated to the young female audience that it serves, and we know that they watch television a lot of different places,” Erwich said, noting that most of the viewing of Freeform shows happens on Hulu.

He touted the network’s slate of mostly unscripted fare, including Chrissy & Dave Dine Out, which premiered a couple of weeks ago, and the upcoming Royal Rules of Ohio and Sasha Reid & the Midnight Order.

“We just had some very successful launches, Good Trouble [S5B], Chrissy & Dave Dine Out. We have a show called Royal Rules of Ohio that I think our young adult audience is really going to enjoy,” he said. “What’s interesting about Freeform is that it is not just original programming where they have their success, we have a really creative and inventive slate of movies that we promote a lot.”

Erwich singled out Freeform’s signature movie events, 31 Nights of Halloween and 25 Days Christmas, noting that over half of the top-rated movies on cable in December were Freeform offerings.

“We’re going to continue to serve that audience, just in a variety of methods,” he said.

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