The American Broadcasting Company (ABC) was a spin-off of the NBC Blue Radio Network after the government determined that NBC having two networks was anti-competitive. Purchased by Life Savers and Rexall Drug Store owner Edward Noble in 1943, the original name of the company would be American Broadcasting System. After a change to American Broadcasting Company in mid 1944, a series of radio stations were forced to change their call letters. Although they began slowly, a purchase of station WXYZ in Detroit brought with them such hit shows as The Lone Ranger
, Sergeant Preston
, Sky King
. ABC soon began counter acting their programming to challenge the competition. They were the first to use a method of taping their shows ahead of time and broadcasting them later. A slew of big named stars liked the freedom this allowed and signed with them.
In 1947 ABC applied for licenses to five TV stations across the US. They chose channel 7 as each of their numbers since it had been rumored that 2-6 were to be removed from use. On April 19,1948, ABC hit the airwaves. The network started slowly and a 6 month ban was put on for new applications of affiliates. This ban lasted from 1948-52, and slowed progress to a halt. Since they had been late comers, ABC was given secondary status. But unlike their counterpart DuMont Network, ABC had their radio stations as income and could stay alive. Bordering on bankruptcy, ABC found a backer in United Paramount Theaters, a former partner with Paramount Pictures in which they had recently parted ways. After three years of court battles to look into UPT's legal issues, they deal been consummated and 1953 would from now on be known as ABC's official birth date. Leonard Goldenson, UPT's head used his status in the business to make deals to bolster their station. The new, refurbished ABC would hit the airwaves on October 27, 1954 with a lineup that included the highly popular show Disneyland
. But they still had a tough road ahead since they were still received with secondary status.
ABC would place third in the national ratings still, but topped the charts in their more prestigious, larger markets. Although they were mostly geared towards the younger audience, the network soon delved into the sports field. On April 29, 1961, Wide World of Sports
was first broadcast and along with the innovative style of the camera shots used for Monday Night Football, ABC had turned sports into a world billion dollar franchise. Though still considered small, the network had increasing success with the baby boomer audience and introduced such teenage favorites as American Bandstand
to their viewers. They also showed sci fi on their network, a genre shunned by the competition. With shows like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
, The Outer Limits
and Time Tunnel
, viewers got a taste of something new to TV. In 1966 they made another unheralded move by adding a show based on a comic book to their line-up along with the unheard of concept of showing this series on two consecutive nights. In keeping with the youthful ideas, ABC would also add series such as the Brady Bunch
, My Three Sons
and That Girl
to the schedule.
The 70s and 80s would also see ABC make a strong showing in the daytime series with their soap operas and game shows. By now the network had made a strong showing of catching up and passing their competition of CBS and NBC. With the use of a new terminology known as demographics, ABC would bring aboard shows that had a wider appeal to their audience. The 70s saw such classics as Happy Days
, Three's Company
on their schedules, shows that had real staying power. Most of the credit for the new found turnaround was given to head of programming Fred Silverman. He commissioned Aaron Spelling to create new shows for ABC that were new and different, such as Charlie's Angels
. They also would air now-classic miniseries as Roots
By the mid 80s, the Fred Silverman classics were gone and other hit programs had run their course. A resurgent NBC was now putting the pressure back on ABC. They set their sites on comedies as a staple, and although the bigger, classic shows still topped the charts, ABC was now losing momentum and profits. They were now in position for a major takeover. And so it came, in 1996 Disney would buy ABC and rename it ABC,inc. The two companies had a long standing relationship since Leonard Goldenson pledge enough money to help Disneyland complete their theme park. ABC also had first crack at the Disney TV series. A brief resurgence came in the late 90s when a prime time game show, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire
took the country by storm. But it was short lived after CBS countered this move with the next phenomenon Survivor
. In the beginning of the new decade, ABC would find a new niche with the addition of popular dramas such as Lost
, Desperate Housewives
, Boston Legal
. They have moved up to number two in the ratings despite having their most acclaimed shows up against the FOX huge hit American Idol
On September 27, 2004, ABC1 was launched in the United Kingdom on satellite and cable showing many of the network's popular shows.