Buyer Profile: Tom Zappala, ABC Family

The buyer: Tom Zappala, head of acquisitions and scheduling, ABC Family

ABC Family is the Disney-owned cable network that launched in November 2001 following the sale of Fox Family and Fox Kids Network to ABC. It airs a combination of youth skewing series such as Greek (pictured), Kyle XY and animated comedy Slacker Cats, original TV movies such as the Melissa Joan Hart fronted Holidays in Handcuffs and reality shows including America’s Prom Queen and Cheer Camp. It is run by Paul Lee, former BBC America CEO.

What is ABC Family’s target demographic?

The median age of viewers is 33 but the original programming skews slightly younger.

What are some of ABC Family’s latest shows?

We’re doing The Secret Life of the American Teenager, which is like Juno with Molly Ringwald. We’ve got The Middleman, a Men in Black-style monster romp and Samurai Girl.

What is the mix between original shows and acquisitions?

The channel is based in acquisitions but primetime is more of a mix between original shows and acquisitions. Most of our off-net acquisitions are comedies like That ’70s Show.

What are some of your latest acquisitions?

We took Brat Camp from the UK. We ran it as was because it was set in a camp in Utah and it did very well for us. I’m also looking at Dating 911 from Fox and Supernanny. We’ve got [CBC comedy] Sophie. We did Falcon Beach with Global TV and shot two versions, one based in Montreal and one based in Boston.

What are you looking for?

We want to do more Canadian shows like Sophie. We were looking to do an ITV, US and Canadian coproduction but it fell through. We’re looking for comedy now and I’m scouting for formats and coproductions.

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