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The article is here.

In some universe, the name “Syfy” is less geeky than the name “Sci Fi.” Dave Howe, president of the Sci Fi Channel, is betting it’s this one.


A meaningless statement to start the article lends no credibility to the writers.

To that end, the 16-year-old network—owned by NBC Universal—plans to announce that Syfy is its new name March 16 at its upfront presentation to advertisers in New York.


Sci Fi Channel's sixteen years old? (Also, since when did journalism stop writing out numbers less than twenty? I thought we were taught to do that in every writing course ever.)

“What we love about this is we hopefully get the best of both worlds,” Mr. Howe said. “We’ll get the heritage and the track record of success, and we’ll build off of that to build a broader, more open and accessible and relatable and human-friendly brand.”


How exactly is changing your name to something that most people will have difficulty pronouncing or pronounce the exact same way as your previous name help build a broader brand?

Sci Fi is coming off the best year in its history. In primetime it ranked 13th in total viewers among ad-supported cable networks in 2008. It’s a top-10 network in both adults 18 to 49 (up 4%) and adults 25 to 54 (up 6%).


So, apparently, even as Sci Fi Channel, you can succeed. What reason is there to change the name if you're already getting more watchers?

During its fourth-quarter earnings call, parent General Electric said Sci Fi racked up a double-digit increase in operating earnings despite the beginnings of the recession.


Even in the face of a recession, Sci Fi Channel made more money. Once again, why fix what's not broken?

Nevertheless, there was always a sneaking suspicion that the name was holding the network back.


Oh, of course. It was the name that was holding them back all this time. Not the lackluster movies which could only be described as laughable or the ECW programming that airs on what was once a network about science fiction and had decent shows about UFOs, cryptozoology and paranormal investigation.

“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,” said TV historian Tim Brooks, who helped launch Sci Fi Channel when he worked at USA Network.


Tim Brooks, you have just made many enemies. Continued villification of geeks and gamers will only garner you further disdain.

Mr. Brooks said that when people who say they don’t like science fiction enjoy a film like “Star Wars,” they don’t think it’s science fiction; they think it’s a good movie.


Star Wars? Science fiction? No. Sci fi? Yes. There is a difference. Science fiction is stuff that uses actual science as a basis; sci fi is the pop culture stuff with lots of explosions and maybe laser swords.

“We spent a lot of time in the ’90s trying to distance the network from science fiction, which is largely why it’s called Sci Fi,” Mr. Brooks said. “It’s somewhat cooler and better than the name ‘Science Fiction.’ But even the name Sci Fi is limiting.”


Ah, yes. Sci Fi is a "somewhat cooler" name than Science Fiction, but let's change that to something that is pronounced the same way. No one could possibly think it's related.

Mr. Howe said going to Syfy will make a difference.


It will. Loyal viewers will be angry and people who don't watch the network won't care (and probably won't start watching).

“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 said.


That's not how it works. You can't make up a word and tell us what to make of it. If you change the quality of your programming, perhaps you can get more viewers, but you've probably discounted that theory, because changing a name is so much easier.

In terms of television, the new brand better reflects that the channel has programs that are not about the typical sci-fi themes of space, aliens and the future.


How? Also, you forgot monsters. Monsters play heavily into Sci Fi's current programming. Not to mention, I cannot recall the last time there was a movie or show on Sci Fi with the theme of space or aliens. I'll give you the future, because that's where the space raptors come from.

“We really do want to own the imagination space,” Mr. Howe said. “We want to get the credit for the range of content that we already have on our air and that we’ll be doing more of in the future.”


"Own the imagination space." Whut? Also, "range of content". That's just laughable. The content ranges from monster movie to ECW.

Mr. Howe said Sci Fi looks at its branding every couple of years. He added that when new executives join the network, they usually ask if it has ever thought about changing the name.


When new executives join the network, of course it's time to look at the name, because the name is the one thing standing in the way of people taking your network seriously.

The network worked with the branding consultancy Landor Associates and went through about 300 possibilities before selecting Syfy.


I'd really like to see this list of 300 possibilities. If Syfy is the best one, there's got to be some real stinkers on that list.

“When we tested this new name, the thing that we got back from our 18-to-34 techno-savvy crowd, which is quite a lot of our audience, is actually this is how you’d text it,” Mr. Howe said. “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.”


First, how do you test a name? Second, who uses shorthand to turn Sci Fi into Syfy in text messages?

The network plans to make the changeover July 7, when it will launch the new series “Warehouse 13.”


Ah, we have until July 7 before Sci Fi turns into something that looks like a Welsh term. I think it is, actually. Let me look it up. Here it is. Syfy - a feeble attempt at changing a network's demographic by altering the spelling of the name into something nonsensical. Huh. Those Welsh are a rather specific bunch.

The series, about a secret government facility in South Dakota where all mysterious relics and supernatural souvenirs are housed, is emblematic of the channel’s programming direction.


So, the new show's about the warehouse in Indiana Jones? That's a cool concept, but can Syfy actually make it work?

“It is a dramedy and it is set in the here and now. It’s a kind of an Indiana Jones meets ‘Moonlighting’ meets ‘The X-Files,’” Mr. Howe said. “This is a very accessible, relatable, fun show.”


First, will people stop using the word "dramedy", please? It's a plague upon the English language. Second, Indiana Jones meets Moonlighting meets The X-Files sounds so accessible and relatable. I'll withhold my opinion about the fun until I've seen it in action.

The network will begin briefing cable operators about the transition this week and plans a trade ad campaign in April as part of the upfront. The new campaign will use the slogan “Imagine Greater,” which Mr. Howe thinks will resonate with both consumers and media buyers.


"Imagine Greater" sounds familiar. Oh, yeah, how could I forget Apple's "Think Different" slogan? Although, "Imagine Greater" doesn't really make much sense. How does one imagine great in the first place?

“It’s a call to action,” he said. “Look at the everyday and how you can turn it to the extraordinary. It’s an aspirational, optimistic message about enhancing people’s lives.”


So, Syfy is supposed to be life-changing? Ha!

Mr. Howe said the international Sci Fi channels will transition to the new name over the next six to 12 months.


I'm sure all the people who speak languages that don't use the letter y will love this. And, the Welsh will probably die laughing. Wait. Is this some sort of attempt to commit genocide against the Welsh?

Web site SciFi.com also will make the change to Syfy.com.


But, I'm sure SciFi.com will continue to work, but redirect to Syfy.com.

Sci Fi has been working to branch out from being simply a linear cable network to become a hub of businesses operating in the imagination under the Sci Fi Ventures banner.


My mind hurts from the lack of sense in that statement.

“We need an umbrella brand we can attach to new businesses: Sci Fi games, Sci Fi kids. It does no use to attach ‘Sci Fi’ because there’s hundreds of sci-fi Web sites and sci-fi publications. So it’s changing your name without changing your name,” Mr. Howe said.


So, they're planning on making games and children's programming? This will be hilarious.

Sci Fi also will be unveiling some of its programming and development plans at its upfront.


So, we're going to see some of these games soon? Excellent. More stuff for gamers to mock.

But one key venture it won’t discuss is its work with Trion Worldwide to create content designed from the beginning to work on multiple platforms. Mr. Howe said the network is close to announcing a title and description of the project, which will launch as both a subscription-based, massively multiplayer online game and a television series.


A Syfy MMO? I'm curious, but it's more a morbid curiosity than anything. I wonder if it'll be space-based or set in the future.

A writer has been assigned to the project. The idea is to have the show completely synchronized so that when events happen in the show, they are reflected in the game, and vice versa.


So, if you don't play while the show's airing, you're going to miss out? Also, what happens to the MMO when the show gets cancelled?

“Because it’s a server-based game, as the storylines evolve in the TV series, so the game echoes that,” Mr. Howe said. “It’s a completely, uniquely interactive 24-7 immersive entertainment experience.”


Congratulations. You just decribed MMOs and said that things will change in-game. That sounds like pretty much every MMO out there.

He’s seen some “amazing demos” from Trion of the graphics and how the world will be built out.


It just occured to me that the network is attempting to move away from the geeky image and is simultaneously working on an MMO. Hehe.

“What that launches, it truly is the next evolution in dynamic storytelling,” Mr. Howe said.


Huh? How?

Bottom line: Sci Fi Channel was actually a good change from the old name. Changing the name to Syfy sounds like Nintendo's attempts to gain wider demographics. It worked for Nintendo, but that's because they have Mario, a character that has been deeply ingrained in American culture. What does Sci Fi have that's been deeply ingrained in American culture and will help them make the transition to the more accessible branding? Oh, yeah. Nothing.

This just indicates to me that I need to get that Global Dynamics t-shirt before the rebranding because I will not own a shirt with Syfy written on it.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
dino_rider
Mar. 17th, 2009 03:49 am (UTC)
Thirdly, LJ-cut man!
It's not the name change that worries me but the rebranding. I don't know what I'd do without my SFOs, if they're going to stop that as part of it...

Also is it "Syfy" still actually pronounced the same as "Sci-Fi" or is it like "sigh-fee" or something? 'Cause that's how I've been reading it.
al_fuego
Mar. 17th, 2009 04:01 am (UTC)
Re: Thirdly, LJ-cut man!
Very apropos icon.
dino_rider
Mar. 17th, 2009 04:03 am (UTC)
Re: Thirdly, LJ-cut man!
Altho its not even a SFO. Have seen it more on Sci-Fi than anywhere else, though, I think.
nekusagi
Mar. 17th, 2009 03:50 am (UTC)
Please to use an LJ cut.

Otherwise, good points.
el_kevin
Mar. 17th, 2009 04:39 am (UTC)
i just think the whole thing is silly. As long as they still have The SFO movies, Eureka, and Caprica i, fine.
kameil
Mar. 17th, 2009 06:18 am (UTC)
I heart you Eric, but as far as this goes, Oh My Fucking Jesus, who the shit cares, it is a goddamn tv channel, you're starting to sound like SOV-*shot*
hemlock_inyx
Mar. 17th, 2009 12:18 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the laugh, the Welsh shit was lolz. I will be upset over this when I give a damn...promise.
blackscorpy
Mar. 17th, 2009 08:56 pm (UTC)
They'd do better if they bought some of the old MGM movies. Plant of the Apes marathon, FTW?

Sorry, but "Syfy" (pronounced Siffy) sounds like it's an anime character. XD
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )