[Hands-On] Freeform Brings Some ABC/Disney Content to Android TV

ABC Family, one of Disney’s ABC network channels, rebranded in January to the channel name “Freeform”. This name was used to indicate a looser, more flexible set of shows instead of limiting themselves to just family shows. For a while they have had more than just family shows, with many original series targeting teens and young adults. The new brand better reflects this content.

ABC and Disney in general have not been too eager to support Android TV. However, the tide does seem to be turning. The Freeform app now supports Android TV in an update just a few days ago.

WHAT’S NEW

Now available on Android TV!

Let’s try out the app and see what users can expect from it.

Locked Content

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Like many of these TV Everywhere apps, it really is useful when you have a cable provider. Then you can authenticate online and have access to all of the channel’s content. Without it, you’re pretty stuck. There are some shows and movies you can watch. The home screen is relatively straightforward: find shows, movies, and content which requires no login.

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It’s easy to tell which is which. Locked content, which requires a cable login, is denoted by the lock symbol on the card. No lock, it’s free to watch. However, the app does add a lot of ads. I had to watch two before beginning to play this movie, and immediately I could see many more were marked on the timeline for playing at those points.

There were 8 more commercial breaks
There were 8 more commercial breaks

Content

The content is what you’d expect from the channel. There’s a number of young adult movies and of course all of the original series that debut on the channel. It seems like all of their shows are free to watch without sign in, except for Pretty Little Liars. They’re pushing their new series, Letter, right now. It’s in the header of the app, right when it opens, and their other shows also let you watch through entire seasons. There’s likely ads inserted in them, although Freeform doesn’t seem too concerned about their shows.

It makes sense from a business perspective. Freeform is targeting millennials, those who may only have an Android TV in their home. It wouldn’t make sense to prevent their main audience from watching their shows. The locked movies are likely from contract deals with other content creators. Where the channel has the rights, they seem to be loose. This doesn’t apply to PLL perhaps due to some broadcasting rights or just as an incentive to keep cable. (The show is in its final season.)

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There are also a few Disney channel series which you can watch for free.

The app is free to download on Google Play.

Nick Felker

Nick Felker

Nick Felker is a student Electrical & Computer Engineering student at Rowan University (C/O 2017) and the student IEEE webmaster. When he's not studying, he is a software developer for the web and Android (Felker Tech). He has several open source projects on GitHub (http://github.com/fleker)Devices: Moto G-2013 Moto G-2015, Moto 360, Google ADT-1, Nexus 7-2013 (x2), Lenovo Laptop, Custom Desktop.Although he was an intern at Google, the content of this blog is entirely independent and his own thoughts.

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