Archive for Sci Fi Channel

Sci Fi Channel to sci-fi fans: "Drop Dead!"

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, let us gather together and gaze in wonder at the Dumbest Thing Ever:

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.

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.

“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.”

“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.

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.

“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.”


Consider me gobsmacked.

Well, the unwritten story in this article is that NBC’s lawyers probably realized there was no way to trademark “Sci Fi” — but they could trademark a goofy spelling like “Syfy.” So there actually is a legitimate business reason for the change.

But it’s too bad they didn’t just say that. “Hey, folks, we’re changing the name of our network to something we can trademark.” They might get a little razzing about it, but not all that much.

Instead, what they went with was just pointlessly insulting: “Yeah, we’re going to take our core audience, the science fiction, fantasy, and horror geeks, and just tell ’em to take a flying leap. We’re gonna try to get an all-new core audience, one that’s cool and hip and young and sexxxay, if we can convince them to watch old ‘Star Trek’ reruns, wrestling, horror-themed reality shows, and painfully bad movies like ‘Mansquito’ and ‘SS Doomtrooper.’ ”

So five points for having a legitimate reason to change your name, but several thousand points off for telling your friends in the D&D Club that you’re deserting them to try to con a spot at the jocks’ table in the cafeteria.

The Sci Fi Channel has been a pretty sad joke for a while — a few huge successes like “Battlestar Galactica” and “Farscape” balanced against management so cheap they’d broadcast reruns of “Law and Order: SVU” — but I never really imagined they’d end up going hostile on the audiences who supported them over the years. I don’t know if the Secret Masters of Fandom have enough power or a long enough attention span to convince the world’s geeks to boycott the network, but I wouldn’t shed no tears if they did.

Anyway, what’s the over-under for when “Syfy” switches over to an “All Wrestling, All the Time” format? I’m betting on 18 months or less…

Comments off