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Good Idea or Bad Idea? SciFi Changes Name to SyFy Channel

In what is sure to be a classic example of superfluous Marketing, the SciFi Channel has decided to rebrand itself…as the SyFy Channel. Here’s their explanation:

By changing the name to Syfy, which remains phonetically identical, the new brand broadens perceptions and embraces a wider range of current and future imagination-based entertainment beyond just the traditional sci-fi genre, including fantasy, supernatural, paranormal, reality, mystery, action and adventure. It also positions the brand for future growth by creating an ownable trademark that can travel easily with consumers across new media and nonlinear digital platforms, new international channels and extend into new business ventures.

Syfy more clearly captures the mainstream appeal of the world’s biggest entertainment category, and reflects the network’s ongoing strategy to create programming that’s more accessible and relatable to new audiences. Syfy will continue to celebrate the traditional roots of the genre, while opening the brand to accommodate a broader range of imagination-based entertainment.

It sounds like they’re acknowledging the idea that people are put off by the SciFi label. Instead of changing perception, they’re changing the name. And to further emphasize that, it sounds like they are planning on offering less science fiction and more other stuff.

What’s your take? is this a good idea, a bad idea, or a non-issue…and why?

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

37 Comments on Good Idea or Bad Idea? SciFi Changes Name to SyFy Channel

  1. My first reaction was revulsion, but then I realized that’s just the general revulsion I feel for that channel. I mean, it sucks so hard, they might as well try something new.  Preferably, they would just improve the quality of their shows, but we all know that’s not going to happen.  So what they hey?

  2. Pete Tzinski // March 16, 2009 at 12:17 pm //

    I haven’t advanced from the “WTF!?” stage to actual useful comments yet. But reading the press release, my first thought is… WHAT science fiction?

    Seriously. When I think the Sci-Fi Channel these days, I think ECW wrestling and Scare Tactics. I like and watch Ghost Hunters with my wife, but SF it ain’t.

    And despite all that…SyFy? SYFY? WTF?

    I remember the Harlan Ellison rant against “sci-fi” on SF Vortex (on the Sci-Fi Channel) (didn’t that clip get posted here, too? Pretty sure). Harlan must surely be spitting acid at the concept of “SyFy”

    Lord, don’t let this phrase catch on anywhere else in the field.


  3. Pete Tzinski // March 16, 2009 at 12:22 pm //

    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.”

    The derisive hoots have already begun. Entertainment industry columnist Nikki Finke points out, “Adding to the idiocy is that there’s already a company called SyFi Global, an information technology company.” While Gawker says that the network’s new tagline, Imagine Greater, “means nothing and is grammatically incoherent.”


    Bonnie, you can definitely own Syfy. I don’t think anyone is fighting you for it.

    And I like the grammatically incoherent “imagine greater.”

    I think they were branded by the Derek Zoolander School For Kids Who Want To Read Good (And Do Other Stuff Good Too).

  4. They’ve changed the name from something that tells me what kind of shows I’m likely to find there to something that tells me…  What?  That someone can’t spell?  That the marketing people are trying to justify their budget?  That they’re moving away from sci-fi programming toward reality shows featuring illiterates?

    Shakespeare said, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  Unfortunately, changing the name of the SciFi channel won’t change the way it smells. 

  5. Haha, the word “syfy” has pretty bad connotations in Polish.

  6. My first reaction was “Oh Puleeze!”

    Then I moved on to – “Since when has the SciFi channel shown me science fiction?”  Years ago, I got Jerry Anderson’s fantastic UFO re-ran (filling me with joy), but now all I get is wrestling and decapitation films written by 4 year olds.   And what’s this bit:  “…embraces a wider range of current and future imagination-based entertainment…”  So, um, Science Fiction ISN’T future imagination based entertainment?  Well color me educated.

    I’m back and forth now between not caring and fearing for the future public perception of Science Fiction.

    My final reaction is – the minute someone asks if I write SyFy, I’m going to commit murder.

  7. I’m still mostly at the WTF?!?! stage – especially over the new tag line and the really crappy new web site – yeah I know it’s a place holder for a future site but what they have up is pathetic. Especially since it’s a HUGE FREAKING IMAGE that does nothing to make them look intelligent. Grated I’ve hated the main site for years so I can’t say I’m surprised…

    Of course it’s not as though I’ve watched that much on SciFi channel anyway – only a couple shows that even I would agree are dumbed down science fiction (both of the Stargates among others). It’s bad enough that science fiction is considered a joke by a lot of non-fans – I’m worried that this might make things worse…

  8. So I guess the Fluffy Bunny & Cute Kitty eXtreme Channel didn’t test well?

    The secret corporate agenda to personally annoy me continues apace…

  9. At first read I thought this was a prank. Then I really, really hoped it was a joke. Then I read the comments and followed some of the links and now my reaction is flucuating between wanting to cry and gag. It looks horrible and it’s a travasty to scifi…and the gag reflex is winning out so I’m going to leave now and go read Ursula Vernon’s Digger.

  10. I gave up on the idea when it seemed the firm hired to come up with the new name choose it because it was easy to “text”. The dumbing down of the genre by dumb suits continues! Per aspera, ad astra!

  11. I already saw this and ranted about it on my blog.


    Some of the motivation behind this rebranding lunacy, that they don’t want to be thought of as a channel for “dysfunctional geeks” is frankly disgusting and insulting. 

  12. Another bad idea from the network made of bad ideas.

  13. I just realized, the more I look at the printed SyFy, the more I want to pronounce it: Siffy.

  14. I see “SyFy” and my mind pronounces it “Siffy.” Of course, going from there, my mind also thinks “Syphilis.” Oy vey.

  15. It is another bad idea that follows along with their long series of bad programming choices.  It does however make it easier for me to keep continuing to ignore the network.

  16. I hate the Sci-Fi Channel so much that I will not even watch it for the shows that I like, such as BG, SG Atlantis, SG-1, Farscape, etc.  I have never seen any of them other than on the DVD box sets.  That means, of course, that I am always behind, including the fact that  I have not seen a single episode of BG’s final season.  There will be plenty of time for that when the disks come out.  That way I will not be assaulted by trailers for Sci-Fi Channel movie specials about giant mosquito men, killer sharks in water parks, clueless dorks searching for things I don’t believe in, i.e., ghosts, and the myriad of other swill that has become the trademark of that awful channel.  I gave up on Skiffy a long time ago.  There is nothing they can do to win me back as a regular viewer, so the change to a meaningless noun “SyFy” is only of academic interest.

    I suppose it’s not that much different than the abortions that The Learning Channel (TLC), Arts & Entertainment (A&E) and other formerly watchable cable services have devolved into.  I just had hoped for better.

  17. Worst idea ever!

    honestly, it probably won’t matter one way or another – but they sure are getting a lot of press about it.

    As mentioned above, I love the Polish connection. Syfy is the plural of a nasty curse word that is derived from syphillis (and can also refer to that disease as well). What a perfect fit.

  18. Perhaps we should broaden the literary horizons as well: “Syence Fyction”?

    This is dumb. But, then again, since they haved moved so far away from actually airing any good SF (with the exception of BSG…which ends this week…), I guess they can do whatever they want with the name. Though I would like to know if they considered “SaiFai,” “SieFie,” or “TCNFKASF” (“The Cable Network Formerly Known as Sci-Fi”).

    One up side: It will help prevent me from confusing it with the Science channel (SCICH vs. SCIFI) on the on-screen guide, which happens at times. (“Why is How It’s Made on instead of Dr. Who?”)

  19. Just shows how superfluous management is. I wonder how long long this decision took and how many consultants they had to hire.

  20. I wonder if they’ll change the name of the Polish version of SciFi channel as well now. Given the nasty connotation, it would be quite silly, so Poland will likely stick to the old name.

  21. Matte Lozenge // March 16, 2009 at 7:39 pm //

    It’s like one of those joke products you see on the side of a box in a Road Runner cartoon, except it’s not supposed to be a joke. Acme jet-propelled roller skates indeed.

  22. It sounds like “sly”, “shifty”, “sleazy”, “slippery” … can you tell I have my thesaurus next to me?

    Guys, I’d love to have Sci-Fi or even SyFy where I am (Malaysia). I live in an sf-challenged geographic zone and both hubby and I are suffering from severe withdrawal. Even some s-f padded with crap is still SOME sf.

    But, yeah, hate the name. Rack up another WTF?!


  23. It’s not really an issue for me.  I’ve known that SciFi wasn’t a science fiction destination anymore for a while.  When I was tuning into that station only to see crappy made-for-TV rip-off movies, non-SF programming, stupid ghost hunting nonsense (which I can’t stand, because people take it seriously, when in reality they don’t provide any logical proof to ghosts whatsoever, they just wander around pretending to have the heebeejeebees and yell/scream/sweat/stutter and show us, the viewers, nothing, not even a chair moving or something), I knew it was pretty much over for me.

    Battlestar Galactica is the only thing I watch from that station, and I don’t even watch it on SciFi, but on Hulu or elsewhere.  I can’t stand what the station has become.  When it first surfaced when I was younger they used to play all these old SF classics (like the monster movies, Planet of the Apes, and all sorts of other SF from scary to downright nifty).  They played reruns of my favorite shows, marathons of old classics like The Twilight Zone, etc.  It was a darn good station.  When they started adding original programming, I was okay with that, but then they went overboard and started churning out of cheese and garbage.  Then I stopped watching.  They’ve had the occasional gem on that station, but mostly it’s just a crapshoot.  I want my old Godzilla movies, dangit!

  24. I’m not sure if you even have to ask if this is a bad idea.  It just is.  Because it just sounds dumb.  At least those of us who enjoy science fiction could pretend there was a channel that was worth watching.  Even when it was getting kind of pathetic. 

    But now… I don’t even know what syfy even means.  It sounds and looks silly.  It also sounds like they are going to stop pretending to even bother with real science fiction.

  25. Pete Tzinski // March 16, 2009 at 8:28 pm //

    Given that my SF television has long since shrunk away from a plethora of shows down to Doctor Who (fanatically) and Torchwood (with increasing fanaticism, since Series 2 ended so well) this doesn’t phase me at all, except for the amusement and watching the conversation. I realize I’m the only person on the planet who doesn’t watch BSG (Despite the urging of friends, nothing about it has yet made me WANT to watch it…)

    So. Since all my SF-TV comes from the BBC, well, I guess I am unfazed.

    I wonder if this is coming about BECAUSE Battlestar Galactica is at an end now. That’s the last major SF show they’ve got (which also gets viewers and good reviews…I’m lookin’ at you Stargate). And now it’s done. And so they do a name change and make some noise. I expect they don’t have anything to fill the gap usefully.

    I wonder how much longer Siffy will be around.

  26. I’ve never watched, nor felt compelled to watch, BSG either – and right now I’m watching “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die!”  on TCM.

    The old classices SyssyFuss should be airing.

  27. I find it sad that SciFi went from a channel I used to watch at least once a week to maybe once a month. My wife and I used to love SciFi Fridays now we never watch it together. I did watch the other day when they had a Twilight Zone marathon with a couple of old episodes I hadn’t seen in a while. I’m just hoping Eureka will be interesting when it comes back. So in other words call it what ever you want because it doesn’t matter to me anymore.

  28. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse….  SyFy!  Take that, you fans of Science Fiction!

    The worst thing about the Siffy channel is that, to the un-initiated and unwary, the SciFi channel IS Science Fiction.  Where else would you go to watch sci-fi shows?  After all, it’s the flagship station for the genre, right?  It stands to reason that they would put on the best possible science fiction shows.  Who in their right mind would put out substandard programming?  They’re the only game in town.  They must be putting on the best of the genre, right?

    SyFy.  A giant suck sandwich with a super-sized side of crap and a 32 ounce cup of fail.  Bon apetite, folks!

  29. Im happy about it actually. It give Sci-Fi a chance to distance itself from the crappy channel. With a little luck another channel may step up(eyes on you AMC) to fill the void and give us good sci fi programming we haven’t seen in years. This rebranding just reaffirms what we’ve all known for a long time now. And with BSG wrapping up are we really gonna miss that network?

  30. Sigh…

    Just curious…is it possible to find a TV exec, somewhere, with an ounce of freaking common sense?  There’s no reason for this change, no upside, and more potential for ridicule than even I can fathom.  And I write satire…I can fathom lots of ricdivulous crap!

  31. Dear SyFy, (lol whatever… Synce Fyction? really? You’re so hip! (vomit))

    Do whatever you want. I stopped coming to your channel for Science Fiction (actual Sci-Fi) quite some time ago. Right about the time you were showing wrestling (the fake kind) on your channel.

    However your quest for irrelevance is complete! Good job! Fire the marketing team… Mmmmmkay? I’m not convinced your maketing team knows what market they are in or who their key demographic is.




  32. Oh, I’m so with John on this one!  It’s a good thing – it allows somebody else to come in and do science fiction television and not create confusion in the marketplace.  And AMC or USA show or two (I can dream can’t I?) would be a good thing, and this clears the way for it.

  33. I think you’ve missed this statement in the announcement:

    …the new brand broadens perceptions and embraces a wider range of current and future imagination-based entertainment beyond just the traditional sci-fi genre, including fantasy, supernatural, paranormal, reality, mystery, action and adventure.

    In other words…less science fiction and more programming that appeals to a wider audience.  They are shirking science fiction for more popular programming.  (I see reality television out the wazoo in their future…)

  34. And yet another television network shows that they’re completely out of touch with the evolution of entertainment. Terrestrial television should be going MORE niche market, not less, because they have so many entertainment venues to compete with.

    Dirty, smelly, anti-social geeks spend money too – more than you’d care to realize on our books, games, DVD box sets, and action figures. Perhaps you’d like to check out my DINK discretionary spending money sometime, Mr Siffy.

  35. Carolyn // July 7, 2009 at 11:58 pm //

    I saw the commercials for SyFy just this evening and I love it.  It took me a few seconds to figure out the rebranding efforts, but I really appreciate the fresh new visual concept that they’ve pushed for.  I think it’s a bit more expansive then the SCI Fi channel concept. SCI FI seems like something only for guys.  SyFy seems like something you can watch with your girlfriend.  As a self-prclaimed nerd (girl) I appreciate the esthetic efforts and I look forward with anticipation for the new season.




  36. Sy Fy Has to many popups on each program. I wish a had a  popup blocker for tv! The Popup is a bad idea. I dont enjoy watching the  show no matter has much I like the show!

  37. I hate Sy Fy popups too. Who was the genius who thought bad programming and annoying viewers to death was a good combination? I would suggest everyone write their cable company and ask for the channel to be removed from the lineup. Seriously, would anyone miss it that much? Why are we paying for crap and popups??????

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