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Sci Fi Channel Becoming Less Geek-Centric "SyFy" 798

narramissic writes "According to a TV Week article, NBC Universal has decided to change the name of their Sci Fi Channel to SyFy. Why? To pull in a more 'mainstream' audience. If you're unclear what 'more mainstream' means, TV Historian Tim Brooks spells it out for you: '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.' Yes, we should probably all be offended. And telling us that a crack marketing team came up with the name because that's how tech-savvy 18-to-34 year-olds would text it really doesn't help."
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Sci Fi Channel Becoming Less Geek-Centric "SyFy"

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  • My IQ (Score:5, Funny)

    by Shads ( 4567 ) <> on Monday March 16, 2009 @04:53PM (#27216509) Homepage Journal

    My IQ just dropped 20 points reading that.

    What the hell.

  • FIRST??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by M-RES ( 653754 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @04:53PM (#27216517)
    ...actually most kids would text SF coz it's shorter!
    • by TaoPhoenix ( 980487 ) <> on Monday March 16, 2009 @05:33PM (#27217293) Journal

      See, this is why PHB needs to go back to their retreats and stay away.

      SF used to be the preferred correct name as well. "SciFi" was considered a bastardized derivative. But we sorta lived with it because it was a language-shift thing.

      So now they had to go with a completely useless name that fails ALL counts. Beautiful.

  • by Trillan ( 597339 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @04:53PM (#27216519) Homepage Journal

    ...and go straight to "The channel with Battlestar Galactica reruns, and nothing else really worth watching."

    That's more than four letters, though.

  • (Score:5, Insightful)

    by internerdj ( 1319281 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @04:54PM (#27216521)
    Has the key word for the new name: "Ownable." Guess they were having difficulty suing people over the use of the word SciFi
    • (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hansamurai ( 907719 ) <> on Monday March 16, 2009 @05:02PM (#27216709) Homepage Journal

      They apparently didn't have trouble threatening over the word SyFy though. They recently moved to and have a peculiar message when trying to reach them from Google. []

    • (Score:5, Insightful)

      by The Ultimate Fartkno ( 756456 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @05:16PM (#27216963)

      Actually, the problem is that no one could sue *anyone* over the name "Sci-Fi."

      Network president Dave Howe explains the name change as a necessity to attract a broader audience. "We love being sci fi⦠But we're more than just space and aliens and the future â" the three things most people think of when they think of 'sci fi.' What this does is hopefully gives us the best of both worlds. You keep the heritage, but also open up to a broader range of content."

      The Sci Fi Channel also ran into problems with trademarking the Sci Fi brand!

      "We're going to have upwards of 50 Sci Fi Channels in various territories and yet you cannot trademark 'Sci Fi' anywhere in the world," explained Howe. "A new logo design would not solve that particular challenge. We needed a brand name that was own-able, portable and extendable."

      Given the choice between bastardizing their existing name to be "the same" and yet trademarkable or having to rebrand the output of a 50+ network of stations, I'll say they made the right call.

  • by grocer ( 718489 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @04:54PM (#27216533)
    the new marketyng mandate to replace all our "I" wyth "Y"s...yn fact, yt wyll make everythyng more old tymye...why, all the tyme I spent learnyng to read myddle englysh wyll fynally be tyme well spent...
    • For example, in Year 1 that useless letter "c" would be dropped to be replased either by "k" or "s", and likewise "x" would no longer be part of the alphabet. The only kase in which "c" would be retained would be the "ch" formation, which will be dealt with later. Year 2 might reform "w" spelling, so that "which" and "one" would take the same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well abolish "y" replasing it with "i" and iear 4 might fiks the "g/j" anomali wonse and for all.

      Generally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear with iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and iears 6-12 or so modifaiing vowlz and the rimeiniing voist and unvoist konsonants. Bai iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi ridandant letez "c", "y" and "x"â" bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez â"tu riplais "ch", "sh", and "th" rispektivili.

      Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev alojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.

      -Mark Twain. /Dude was ahead of his time.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 16, 2009 @05:04PM (#27216733)

      You spent all that time, but you left one single "i" in there. And I found it. Oh yes, I found it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by arth1 ( 260657 )

      Not to rain on your parade, but back in the days of old English, y was pronounced differently from i/ee. The vowel sound of "y" was lost during the great vowel shift, and in English, it can now only be found in some Scottish dialects.
      The closest sound to the "y" of yonder is the middle sound of "ui", but not as a diphthong, but as a separate persistent sound.

    • Maybe this will finally reverse that stupid shift that took place in the early 1980s where every girl's name that ends with an -ee sound was changed to -i. (E.g., Debbie --> Debbi, Cindy --> Cindi, Tammy --> Tammi, etc.)

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Monday March 16, 2009 @04:55PM (#27216537)
    They're going to do exactly what G4 [] did, introduce a bunch of shitty reality shows and bad syndicated crap designed to shamelessly appeal to the "young male demographic" (as if young males are completely devoid of taste, and just want some drunk slut in a bikini making an ass of herself in front of Brett Michaels).
    • by wykell ( 1323665 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @04:59PM (#27216625)

      (as if young males are completely devoid of taste, and just want some drunk slut in a bikini making an ass of herself in front of Brett Michaels).

      Actually, as a 23 year old male, that's exactly what I want when I watch tv. Which of course is never. I haven't the time, and the internet exists now, so I can just youtube the good parts. or something like that.

    • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @05:09PM (#27216827) Homepage Journal

      what exactly is too keep me coming back? Rubber dinosaurs? I liked a few of their movies, mainly their take on Wizard of Oz was refreshing if a bit quirky, at least it wasn't a rehash. It was fun to watch.

      If it had not been for BSG I doubt I would know what is on their channel after they canceled Stargate.

      Sorry, I don't a commercial laden channel of crap, I got a few dozen more of these as it is. Their popularity isn't great because they cancel what people watch and load it all up with so many commercials you just have to TIVO it so you can fast forward through to get that 2 hour show back down to the 90 minutes it used to be. Weren't these the guys who ran original star trek episodes uncut but took 90 minutes to do it?

    • by neowolf ( 173735 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @05:10PM (#27216867)

      Um, they have already done this. Sci Fi, or SyFy has very little actual SF content anymore. They now feature "wrestling" and crappy reality and game shows, along with god-awful made-for-tv monster movies, which I suppose COULD be considered SF if they weren't so badly done.

      With no more "Stargate" or "Battlestar Galactica", they have almost nothing going for them anymore. I had hoped "Sanctuary" might redeem them a little bit, but I lost interest after the first few episodes. Once "Eureka" is done this summer, I'm probably going to get a cheaper satellite package, as I'm pretty sure Sci Fi is the only reason I have my current one.

    • by Tumbleweed ( 3706 ) * on Monday March 16, 2009 @05:57PM (#27217703)

      They're going to do exactly what G4 did

      Which is what MTV did long before G4. Did you know they used to play music videos?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      They are devoid of taste. Completely. I'll probably get flamed for this, but I don't understand genre fanship. Good characters are good characters, good plot is good plot. You can take a western put it in space and its the same story. Its intrinsic value ( to me anyways) doesn't really have anything to do with the surroundings. I guess though, like good music, good stories are only appreciated by a few. That's why we're stuck with MTV & ilk.
  • not surprised (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MoFoQ ( 584566 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @04:55PM (#27216545)

    for some reason, I'm not that surprised.
    With SciFi airing wrestling....yes...wrestling...normal, steriod-loaded human male robots.... first thoughts about it were "WTF!" along with many other fellow sci-fi fans.

    That and the end of two great sci-fi shows from the Stargate realm pretty much spelled the upcoming doom of the network.

  • NBC Universal has decided to change the name of their Sci Fi Channel to Syfy.

    That is quite possibly the stupidest network name I've ever heard. Who comes up with this stuff?

    Yes, we should probably all be offended.

    I should. But it's hard to feel indignant when the SciFi channel hasn't been a serious SciFi channel in damn near a decade. They used to show collections of all the great old SciFi TV shows and movies with some (often quite good) original new series and movies thrown into the mix. Unfortunately, this has been significantly pared down over the years. SciFi Channel friday nights are good, but (with the exception of Eureka) that's about it. They fill the rest of the time with crap like wrestling.

    If SciFi went under, I'd dearly miss Stargate and Eureka. But that's about it.

    And telling us that a crack marketing team came up with the name because that's how tech-savvy 18-to-34 year-olds would text it really doesn't help.

    Marketing departments tend to be disconnected from reality. They want everyone to believe that SciFi would be texted as "SyFy" to prop up their position. The truth is that alternatives like "SF" (what you'd actually text it as) are difficult to trademark and don't roll off the tongue as nicely as "SciFi". (Gee, maybe they should have kept the name? ... Nah. Then they couldn't convince everyone that wrestling is futuristic.)

    The name Sci Fi has been associated with geeks and dysfunctional, antisocial boys in their basements with video games and stuff like that

    Perhaps they shouldn't have reinforced the stereotype with all those Poe-style ticking clocks, suitcase cars, monsters turning into people, and other SciFi channel ads? It's not like your average movie goer is unhappy about watching a SciFi movie. Look at the Matrix for a great example. As long as you don't present the concept in too geeky of a light, the general populace can (and does) get on board.

    • by dj245 ( 732906 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @05:20PM (#27217057) Homepage
      I remember when TLC was "The Learning Channel". They had all sorts of great stuff on there, including Junkyard Wars and fistfuls of great documentaries. Then they drove Junkyard wars into the ground, brought in a bunch of "Pimp my X" and "Flip this House" shows. Now the channel is dead to me.

      A similar thing happened recently to the Discovery Channel. Anyone who thinks that Mythbusters has science content is kidding themselves.

      Looks like the Scifi channel is next. Stargate has no new episodes, the "good ol' shows" like Farscape and the Outer Limits are banished to 1AM in the morning, and now the name change.

      I see lots of great channels being run into the ground. Does anyone know any that are rising to the top?
  • Fonzi'd (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hansamurai ( 907719 ) <> on Monday March 16, 2009 @04:57PM (#27216593) Homepage Journal

    Can an entire network jump the shark?

    "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."

    I think Slashdot mostly falls into that "techno-savvy crowd," but somehow, I don't think the reaction is going to be quite so receptive. Changing a name because that's how someone would text it?

  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @05:01PM (#27216677)

    It can't be the professional wrestling or Mansquito. It's obviously the name that's the problem! Quick! Change the name!

  • *sigh* (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TrebleJunkie ( 208060 ) <ezahurak@at l a n> on Monday March 16, 2009 @05:03PM (#27216729) Homepage Journal

    Behind ever corporate headquarters should be a well-equipped firing range and adjacent mass grave, in order to swiftly and appropriately rectify decisions as piss-poor and stupid as this one.

  • Missing the point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slapout ( 93640 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @05:07PM (#27216799)

    "as opposed to the general public and the female audience in particular"

    Isn't the the whole point of having a channel dedicated to one subject--to go after people interested in that subject?

  • by BrookHarty ( 9119 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @05:19PM (#27217033) Homepage Journal

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

    So, as a father of 4, working the tech sector for over a decade, early adopter in tech, when it comes to TV, I'm a horrible demographic to want? I'm not the general audience because I am a geek and a man?! WTF!? Thats f'cking sexist and rude.

    I'm rather insulted by these guys statement. The whole statement is a slam. Maybe they should be paying attention how well sci-fi does in the movie theaters, how well our demographic buys electronics...

    Dave Howe and Tim Brooks, you both need a good punch in the nose for those comments and selling out the people who watched and supported that channel.

    Oh, and good choice on the new name, now it sound like a disease. syfylis.

  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by Stormwatch ( 703920 ) <rodrigogirao@ho t m a i l . c om> on Monday March 16, 2009 @05:27PM (#27217193) Homepage
    It's dead, Jim.
  • by jollyreaper ( 513215 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @05:28PM (#27217221)

    What this chumwits fail to realize is that geek is bigger and broader than ever. Consider the inroads computers and video games have made into the landscape. Video games are an umpty-billion dollar a year industry and are either threatening to or have already surpassed music and movies as the biggest consumer entertainment market. This really surprises me. I mean, I like gaming but I didn't think it was that huge but there it is.

    There's always been a demand for escapism entertainment. Now you can argue about hard SF and sci-fi like geeks argue trekker vs. trekkie. It doesn't really matter -- escapism is huge. Now you could be talking comic book fantasy or spaceships and aliens scifi or brooding sexual vamps and werewolves, it doesn't matter. Those of the female persuasion have embraced this sort of thing just as vigorously as the boys. Let's not overlook the amazingly huge impact of Japanese media as well -- manga, anime, etc.

    The difficulty the big media types have here is they want to go for the biggest audience. They're still stuck in the 50's when a popular show could capture half the audience across the entire country. They simply can't abide by the idea of serving a niche and serving it well, keeping the overhead low so that they can enjoy a modest, dependable income.

    There's a huge market out there for brain-boggling entertainment. People want the unusual, want the unexpected. The problem is that the Sci-Fi Channel has insisted on doing it in the most ignorant, pigheaded, and insulting manner possible.

    For starters, Sci-Fi Channel Original Movies universally mean piss awful drek spanked together with the most miserable of standards, CGI monster of the week crap that's poorly conceived, written, acted, and directed. Rod Serling was able to create art with crappy cameras and a SFX budget of cigar butts and sawdust. Sci-Fi doesn't care. They just want to crank out low-expectation shit and expect people to lap it up. What about when they put that contemptible fuckspat John Edwards on? Not the presidential candidate but the spook whisperer. How in the hell is this sci-fi? And what about that Ghost Hunters crap? I can well appreciate the odd UFO and cryptid show but Sci-Fi stuck to this tabloid crap the way the History Channel clings to WWII shows.

    I think the biggest problem they have here is that their product is aimed at bright geeks but management wants to market it to idiot chump TV watchers who throw money at anything with tits and explosions. Proper geeks will either Tivo what they want to watch or buy the DVD's -- advertising-supported television will simply not be cost-effective here. But this is going to be the future, folks. People are getting used to watching their TV curled up in bed on the laptop or on the train with the ipod or just plug the computer into the TV and watch the torrent. People have demonstrated they will pay money to watch the show but they're not going to pay through the nose. And there are so many new areas of entertainment to explore, the market for old school passives is going to keep suffering from greater competition.

    I think what we're seeing here is the same cause for the failure of Air America. Right wing radio listeners tend to be whiter, older, and have grown up listening to radio. There's not many converts amongst the youth. The target audience for Air America, the liberals, tend to be less likely to listen to radio to begin with and more likely to be getting their news and views from alternative media or television. This was a fight Air America could not win because the market simply wasn't there, even as Air America hosts in other venues such as Rachel Maddow are enjoying phenomenal success.

    Once Galactica is finished will they even have anything scifi-related in the line-up? I know they canned the Dresden Files on account of being too expensive and the push to end Galactica is along similar lines. What, are these people stupid? Do they not realize scifi shows are always the most expensive there are to produce and have been so sinc

    • by Beelzebud ( 1361137 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @05:46PM (#27217519)
      It would be NICE if History Channel would go back to showing WWII documentaries all the time. It would be better than the bullshit they have on there now.
      Lately it's been the 2012 end-times prophecy channel. Every other show on that channel is now Nostradomus, The Bible Code (ha), and psuedo-science shows that have catchy names like "Earth's Black Hole" in which they interview the quack John Hutchinson (google hutchinson effect for his quackery) about the possibilities of a black hole being located in the ocean....
  • by sdaemon ( 25357 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @05:35PM (#27217341)

    Sci-Fi to fans: "No, it's SyFy!"
    Fans to Sci-Fi: "EetADik. You never should have canceled Farscape."

  • by Cyphertube ( 62291 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @05:35PM (#27217347) Homepage Journal

    I haven't watched much of Sci Fi in a while. I used to watch Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, but they're done. I would have continued watching Battlestar Galactica, but it kept jumping around, so now I'm waiting and just getting it on DVD.

    Nothing else had really jumped out at me lately. But then again, ever since the whole Farscape fiasco, it's been clear that the management doesn't have a clue how to run a channel that is targeted towards a particular interest group and then use that for better advertising prices.

    The more this crap goes on, the more likely I am to stop watching a lot of TV and just buy stuff on DVD or watch it on the Internet.

  • epitaph (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PMuse ( 320639 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @05:39PM (#27217411)

    SyFy: Though market studies clearly showed room for a mainstream channel catering to action/tech/paranormal fare, the stigma of having been the "Sci Fi" channel doomed NBC Universal's efforts to woo mainstreamers from the start.

    SciFi: The channel formerly known as SciFi abandoned its core audience in 2010 an attempt to lure mainstreamers away from Fox. Immediately, a trio of new channels emerged in the unpopulated geek fringes. The strongest of these was soon purchased by News Corp., allowing it starve the former SciFi channel of geeks as well as mainstreamers.

  • by SlappyBastard ( 961143 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @05:39PM (#27217417) Homepage

    The audience is going to abandon Sci-Fi after BSG airs its last episode anyhow. After that, they ain't got a pot to piss in.

    So, NBCU has decided to do to SyFy what it did to all the other peacock channels: dumb them down to the point eh shows don't require writers or competent actors. Christ -- the new Knight Rider is probably going to get yet another season!! Some day we're going to look back and think Idiocracy was a documentary about the gold age of American intellect.

  • by jw3 ( 99683 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @05:40PM (#27217425) Homepage

    This is, indeed, an interesting coincidence. "Syf" (sing.) or "syfy" (plur.) in polish means filth, scum, acne and also syphilis: []. Makes also an interesting metatextual link to another recent Slashdot submission because of the common saying "syf i malaria" (syphylis and malaria) denoting a complete and utter mess, SNAFU etc.


  • by psnyder ( 1326089 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @05:53PM (#27217627)
    Bill Nye the Science Guy [] has decided to officially change his name to:
    Bill NySyGy
  • by Hodar ( 105577 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @06:13PM (#27217959)

    Science Fiction is perhaps the biggest money maker that Hollywood has going. And from what I can tell, ever since Star Trek first aired, people just can't get enough of 'good' science fiction. The problem is that most of the crap on the Sci-Fi channel isn't Science Fiction, it's fantasy somehow involving some science in it.

    Consider Star Trek (and the spin-offs), Star Wars, Terminator, ET, Fantastic Voyage, and even Firefly. There is an insatiable appetite for GOOD Science Fiction. As soon as someone comes up with a great idea, and if the industry is smart enough to recognize the good idea - money is made. Sci-Fi includes classics like Batman, Spider-Man, Iron-man, Fantastic Four and many others have made gazillions, and entertained us for decades. Other stories, dealing with the simple topic of (if only the techology existed ... .then ....) all encompass the realm of Sci-Fiction.

    The problem is that there are too few imaginations who care to write Sci-Fi. You don't need major bucks to tell a good story. Star Trek, Twilight Zone, Night Gallery and Star Wars managed to tell a compelling set of stories all on a tight budget. It just requires a talented and imaginative set of writers.

    Unfortunately, today Sci-Fi writers have been dumbed down into telling inane stories with little or no character development, original thinking or any real motivation. Such a pity. There are so many good Sci-Fi books that could be done on a budget and tell a compelling story.

  • by glebovitz ( 202712 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @06:19PM (#27218033) Journal

    I thought that the promise of digital television was specialized programming for niche communities. From what I can see, all the channels now carry the same crap.

    I can't tell the difference between SciFi, Spike, or even Soap TV (not that I watch it or anything.)

    From what I can tell, the future of television will be 250 channels of "Law and Order" re-runs.

  • by Tetsujin ( 103070 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @06:33PM (#27218229) Homepage Journal

    Granted, I'm kind of closer to the upper end of it at this point (I was old enough to see "Transformers" in the theater) but DAMN that is a shitty new name they came up with.

    Let me describe the situation with an analogy: Suppose the old name, "Sci Fi Channel", is a venerable old VW bus. It's been kicked around for a long time, and it kind of drags up images of the past one might not be too proud of these days - of Sci Fi Channel's humble origins: episodes of Dr. Who that take up more than a regular half-hour block, padded out to an hour with old rocketman serials... FTL newscasts, reruns of "Swamp Thing" and lots of old sci-fi TV shows...

    Now, to complete the analogy, "SyFy" is like a giant, steaming pile of dog shit - probably ejected from the back side of a large dog after it's eaten a rancid piece of roadkill. Looking at it makes one want to vomit forcefully, probably without great regard for direction.

  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @06:36PM (#27218281) Homepage Journal

    They became "the monster channel" a few years ago, as even reruns of real science fiction is rare now.

    While i personally don't like 'horror', Its perfectly fine if they want to be wall to wall evil fling fish with teeth and weird guys that wear hockey masks, but please don't call it scifi..

  • by ClosedSource ( 238333 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @06:51PM (#27218477)

    Their content seems to be primarily silly ghost hunters, wrestling, cheap horror movies and the occasional soon-to be-canceled science fiction series.

  • Oh goody (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SpacePunk ( 17960 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @07:18PM (#27218765) Homepage

    This probably means there'll be more wrestling. Can't get enough wrestling on a science fiction channel.

  • Oh great! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bickerdyke ( 670000 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @07:42PM (#27219049)

    Instead of

    '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.'

    its goint to be

    geeks and dysfunctional, antisocial and dyslexic boys in their basements with video games and stuff like that

    I would respect their descision to attract more mainstream audience. But shouldnt they change the contents to do that instead of the name? A rose, by any other name and so on....

Fear is the greatest salesman. -- Robert Klein