Digital News Report- The Sci Fi Channel has announced that it will be changing it’s name to SyFy (sounds the same) in order to, “broad[en] perceptions and embrac[e] a wider and more diverse range of imagination-based entertainment including fantasy, paranormal, reality, mystery, action and adventure, as well as science fiction,” according to the network’s statement. SyFy is expected to launch on July 7th along with its new show, Warehouse 13 and the return of Eureka.
Dave Howe, president of the Sci Fi Channel, stated that, “It gives us a unique word and it gives us the opportunities to imbue it with the values and the perception that we want it to have.” He explained the change by saying, “our 18-to-34 techno-savvy crowd, which is quite a lot of our audience, [said that] this is how you’d text it. It made us feel much cooler, much more cutting-edge, much more hip, which was kind of bang-on what we wanted to achieve communication-wise.”
Using words such as “cool,” “cutting-edge,” and, worst of all, “hip,” just goes to prove that this channel is not meant to be any of those things. It’s Science Fiction. Why hide it? I, for one, am completely unashamed of my nerdy love for Sci-Fi. But I guess nerds don’t bring in the bucks. The “hip” 18-34 “techno-savvy crowd” (aren’t nerds techno-savvy?) is the demographic being targeted.
Tim Brooks, the TV historian who helped launch the channel 16 years ago, told TV Week, “The name Sci Fi has been associated with geeks and dysfunctional, antisocial boys in their basements with video games and stuff like that, as opposed to the general public and the female audience in particular.” As a female science fiction fan, his view on the matter baffles me. But I guess I’m not part of the typical female audience. It’s still rather insulting.
Another reason for the change is that SyFy is an easier brand. “Sci Fi” is widely used as a description for an entire genre of shows, books, comics, and movies. “SyFy” will now forever be known as the television channel that predominately carries that genre.
Bonnie Hammer, president of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment, told The New York Times, “We couldn’t own Sci Fi; it’s a genre…but we can own Syfy.” In recent years, the channel has carried many other genres as well, such as fantasy and action-adventure shows. The branding change may circumvent that problem as well. It’s tagline, “Imagine Greater,” may also help.
One can speculate that the timing of the change may have to do with the loss of their major cash cow, Battlestar Galactica. The show has consistently been the highest rated show on the channel and now that the show is less than a week away from the end, maybe the SciFi (or SyFy) execs are realizing that they need to do something quick to regain an audience. This is, of course, just speculation.