Starting in July, if you tune to the Sci Fi Channel to watch reruns of Star Trek The Next Generation or Star Trek Enterprise or Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactica you will notice that the channel has a new name ‘SyFy.’ NBC Universal announced the change this morning saying that it will ‘broaden the appeal’ of the network. Really?
Taking the Sci-Fi out of Sci Fi
The Sci Fi Channel has been the spot for genre television for decades, including reruns of various Star Trek shows, currently with Enterprise and Next Generation in the schedule. It has also been the home to original science fiction programming, including the much lauded Battlestar Galactica created by Trek vet Ron Moore (and will be home to the BSG prequel Caprica). However the channel seems to be trying to move away from branding that so closely associates it with science fiction. In the official release SCI FI President David Howe stated:
While continuing to embrace our legacy and our core audience, we needed to cultivate a distinct point of view with a name that we could own that invites more people in and reflects our broader range of programming
The new home of Syence Fyction
As of now it is unclear if this new branding and planned ‘broader range’ of programming will impact Star Trek, which is as quintessentially ‘science fiction’ as you can get. Trek is probably safe, especially as SyFy is still planning a new Stargate show, which (no offense to my fellow Gate fans) is perceived to be even more nerdy than Trek. But is this change really necessary? Is science fiction really that bad of branding message? And if so, then why go for the homonym? Why not rebrand as ‘If’ or ‘Imagination’ or some other generic name?
Also there is a bit of a Trek irony here. Back in 2001 Paramount launched its new Star Trek show without ‘Star Trek’ in it, calling it just ‘Enterprise’. This too was used to ‘broaden the appeal’ of the show, by dropping that nerdy connation. ‘Star Trek’ was later added to the name of the show anyway and it is now one of the more popular shows on Sci Fi.
I am not the only one asking this question. Entertainment Weekly (as mainstream as it comes) is also asking the same question, noting that science-fiction is actually growing in popularity. EW cites the return of Star Trek to popularity as part of its evidence…
let’s reject the notion that sci-fi isn’t mainstream. In the last decade, two Star Wars movies have been the top-grossing films of their year. If we use an inclusive definition of sci-fi, we can add Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Return of the King to our list of box-office winners; The Dark Knight, Spider-Man, and Spider-Man 3 aren’t too far off. The top five grossing movies for 2005? Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; War of the Worlds; and King Kong. In 2007, Transformers, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and I Am Legend were in the top six. Last year, The Dark Knight, Iron Man, and WALL-E were among the top five. Star Trek is coming back. Lost and Heroes have generated buzz on TV. But tell me again about how many people would never watch sci-fi.
Of note, popular genre news site SciFiWire will not be changing its branding according to a post on the site.
sounds lame to me…
I don’t have cable, so it doesn’t really matter to me anyway. Go SyFy!
However, maybe we’ll get higher quality grade “B” movies out of it.
That is completely stupid. WHY???
To take a note from someone on AICN.
“Hardball with Chris Matthews: Tonight on Emessemby See.”
More proofs that the suits just don’t get it.
It feels like it’s about to go the way of G4… dumbing down and forgetting it’s direction.
Should have known it would happen when they started showing wrestling.
I haven’t watched that channel in several years, their programming just isn’t what it used to be.
…makes no sense…
Looks like someone in marketing is trying to justify their job. There is absolutely no reason to do this.
Sounds like to me whoever is running “SyFy” doesn’t want to be a nerd. Gues what? Changing the name won’t make a difference.
April 1st is still a few weeks away. ;-)
“Imagine Greater” is just horrible grammar for a demographic that more than knows how to read.
It’s the “New’ Coke.
Wow. That’s gonna really bring in the viewers that were not really into the Sci but into the Sy.
That’s just silly. And just when sci-fi was making inroads at mainstream acceptance too.
I suppose it makes sense, with much of my generation entrenched in 1337 speak and text message abbreviations.
I don’t like it.
I somehow doubt they market tested this name… it’s just strange. How is this going to broaden the appeal? Phonetically it’s exactly the same… They should have just changed the name of the network altogether.
The joke about there being 500 channels of obscure topics and interests to choose from is hopelessly outdated. Now there are really only 3 types of channels, sports, news, and reality. Think about it, what difference is there anymore between A&E, MTV, History Channel, Discovery, VH1, SPIKE, or TLC? They are all going for the lowest common denominator, you even now see it with news channels like headline news, I mean they call it HLN and run showbiz news for 15 hours a day! All the channels on cable all are looking quite the same. This will get far worse in the future, all “seeking to broaden their reach.”
Sounds good to me. The term “science fiction” is generally unappealing to most people, and for good reason. Un-nerdify the network, please.
There’s some justification from the “branding” issues related to protecting copyrights on “Sci Fi”. I think they’re limited on products and such, compared to a channel like “Spike”, “TNT”, or “ESPN”, none of which can be used in other contexts the way ‘sci fi’ is.
If they’d just been honest and said “Using SyFy will allow us to protect our branding and use the name more widely on products and other projects, without causing confusion with the whole field of science fiction, commonly called sci-fi in the vernacular,” they’d have made a heck of a lot more sense. (and cents ;) )
Cool! Geek is becoming chic!
Sigh? Fie! of course is what I meant. Grrrr. Had the dead video/music store chain on the brain.
Holy cow, that is supremely dumb. And someone just made a bundle off it.
And here’s a fun game. Go to Wikipedia and combine from the list of Acronyms SY & FY and come up with who the network is trying to appeal to! My favorite is: Sybase Fiscal Year… A network about the financial workings of a database developer company. Absolutely riveting.
Try it yousrelf:
I don’t think changing the name will help in the slightest.
But it is true that nerds rule the mainstream now. If you look at the last decade, all these reboot and comic book movies are primarily based on things that were once considered the epitome of nerdism.
Transformers, Watchmen, Spider Man, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, X-Men, Superman, Iron Man, Batman, and the dozen or so other film series that have come out, have all been pretty successful. Even Watchmen, which isn’t doing too great right now, relatively speaking,, has still made over $100 million.
I think that is the reason that this new movie will rock the house, simply because geek is cool. My generation grew up with crap like Bill Nye and The Magic School Bus. Science is actually mainstream, which is strange. A decade ago, almost no one had laptops or used computers to the extent that they are now. But now, I look onto campus and see that virtually everyone has a computer.
Technology and geekism is actually mainstream.
“One day the nerds shall rule the Earth.” Anyone remember that t-shirt? Well… it happened.
I see this panning out about as well as when TechTv did the same thing and became G4, or as I prefer to think of it “the lowest common denominator channel” I cant stand to watch anything on that channel now; its pretty mindless.
RIP Sci-Fi, it was great while it lasted…
Sorry. Thought I was clever and didn’t read all the posts before me ;)
My wife just knocked me over as she ran for the remote so she could turn on the hot new chick network…SyFy. Or course ,she pronounces it “Siffy.”
feh …way lame… :/
In a related note, General Electric, the parent company of SyFy and NBC, changed its name to GeeEee.
Let’s all mix and mash everybody into one glob.
Science Fiction was a genre, now it’s a marketing ploy.
People are different, they want different things. I want science fiction. The last thing I want is an OC/Star Trek hybrid. Oops. Uh, the last thing I want is a Melrose Place/Star Wars hybrid.
Thys ys all a subversyve plot to elymynate the letter “eye” from the alphabet.
Actually, I work in marketing and branding and can’t quite figure this one out. Then again, I couldn’t figure out the connection of professional wrestling to SciFi Channel, either. I mean, if they set up the ring and the matches more like “Gamesters of Triskelion” … now, then we’d have something worth watching!
So that’s why “Syfy Portal” changed recently to “Airlock Alpha” ?
Coming from the network that is supposed to be Sci-Fi and offers such programming as Wrestling, Mansquito, Mantasures Rex – and the like….this comes as no surprise. I’m a Sci-Fi fanatic and around here the Sci-Fi channel is the least watched.
Do the Morons at Scifi get it. There losing Viewership because there canceling great shows. They Canceled Sg1 and Atlantis and Bsg and now they are changing there name to be Broader. Except for the New Stargate show coming up and Maybe Caprica I do not even watch there new Stuff. I sometimes Watch reruns and thats it. Ok I do watch Ecw but come on. Get with it Scifi or should I now say Sci What.
I haven’t watched the network since Bonnie Hammer started screwing things up. I am certainly not one of those people that was impressed with the so called reimagining of Battlestar Galactica let alone any of her other decisions that I think made the channel a joke.
A lot easier to trademark SyFy than SciFi, especially if the channel is planning to move into areas of entertainment outside TV where they haven’t already established “SciFi” as their brand.
I can’t wait to see the Russian version, СЬІФЬІ
Of course, they could have dageshed it or leeted it to Š¥F¥ or §¥ƒŸ…
#36 SUPERB! Now, *that* would be “imagine greater”.
Perhaps the new tagline coda for us will be to their “imagine greater: get lesser”
Ok While we are at name changes lets Call Star Trek Trek Star. Star Wars Wars Star. or Bsg as gsB or babylon 5 as 5 Babylon or Blde Runner as Runner Blade. or Transformers as Former Trans. Or Trek Movie as Movie Trek
What’s next? G4 – JeeFor
What a load of horsesh*t! Let them keep showing their wrestling shows and the rest of their crap. Remember when they ran episodes of “Law and Order” a few years back? Now, that’s some hard sci-fi for you there.
While “SciFi” may be nearly impossible to trademark as a brand name, “SciFi Entertainment” or “SciFi Network” may not have been as difficult. Add to that a distinctive mark and there’s very little reason I can see for changing the name of the network.
I mailed crackers to Bonnie Hammer after she cancelled Farscape.
Used to work there. We originally called ourselves “The Sci Fi Channel”… as in “You’re watching The Sci Fi Channel”…then it was decided that we would drop the “The” and the “Channel” and just be “Sci Fi” as in “You’re watching Sci-Fi.”
Not sure I get the logic behind this one. Sounds like they called in some external brand experts who get paid by the recommendations they make – and felt that they had to change SOMETHING.
(apologies to my buddies who still work there…you know who you are!)