No?  Me neither.

Just in case you hadn’t already heard, I’ll give you all the quick rundown:  SciFi network has decided that it doesn’t like the Science Fiction genre and believes that fans of the genre are weird.  So, to help distance themselves from the identity they spent 17 years creating they are naming themselves “Syfy” (or “Venereal Disease” if you speak Polish).

This confuses me greatly.  Yes, I get the idea that SciFi is technically an entire genre of entertainment and so branding it can be quite hard.  I guess I could pretend that most people don’t know how to capitalize the name of a network that isn’t just a bunch of letters.  I could even humor the idea that they want to broaden their horizons and start showing programming with a different target audience.   But that’s where I start to choke.

You don’t expect to find fast cars on the Food Network, do you?  I’m not expecting Talk Sex on the SPEED Channel.  I don’t expect anything good on ABC Family.  The idea of not expecting science fiction on the channel named after science fiction is a little baffling to me.  Granted, SciFi became almost synonymous with “bad made-for-tv movies” instead of actual science fiction but at least they were consistent.  What are we to expect now?  

Wasn’t the whole point of naming it SciFi in the first place to make sure people knew it was a science fiction centered channel?  You could have just named it “We’ll show whatever gets us ratings, unless we think you’re all losers” Network (WSWGURUWTYAL?  Maybe not) if this was your intent all along:

“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. 

“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.”

You spent a lot of time in the ’90s?  You created the series in the ’90s!  You aren’t exactly the National Broadcasting Company, are you?  It’s not like you’ve been around through a few world wars and have had to change to keep up with the times.  You created the network to fill a specific niche, and now you don’t like the niche you picked?  Why not just create a new network then!?

Probably the most transparent argument for the name change is the idea that trying to copyright the brand “SciFi” is too hard, and “Syfy” is much easier.  I’m not a trademark lawyer, but I’m pretty sure this is a load of bull.  I’m fairly certain that The Learning Channel never got confused with an R&B/Rap duo.  When I tell people I watch Discovery Channel, I’m fairly certain they don’t picture me actually watching a discovery being made.  I mean, if the guys over at FOOD Network aren’t having a problem with branding, I doubt SciFi is really all that hard.  Even Oxygen doesn’t think it’s a problem (and they don’t even put “Channel” or “Network” after their name)!

About The Author

Co-founder of and Executive Producer for Stolendroids Podcast. Also resident 'tech-head' and de-facto leader of the group.

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  • zohner

    Well, some people like to watch VD. How else can you explain E!, MTV, VH1, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, etc?

    Between all of the “reality” shows and pseudo-celebs that we are supposed to care about, it’s amazing that we haven’t been given the gift that keeps on giving, by which I mean eye herpes, from our televisions. To have a network that was designed to cater to geeks in their parents’ basements turn their backs on them just goes to show that no matter how hard they try to convince us that geeks are cool, we aren’t. I see this “rebranding” as an effective Purel bath in which the undesirable viewers will be chased off by inane programming that is neither science or fiction. Well, it will eventually be overtaken by “reality” programming so in a sense, it will be fiction. It’ll just the really crappy kind.

  • Dr Squishy

    Actually the copyright argument is one of their stronger. As a long time wrestling fan, feel free to laugh, I remember about five years ago when the World Wrestling Federation had to change their name to WWE due to a legal dispute with the World Wildlife Federation. Despite the fact that no koala’s have ever been confused with the Undertaker. Its possible that some num nuts locked up the rites to the Sci-Fi copyright. This happened to Fox a few years ago, which is why they had to start releasing films under the name Fox 2000. They settled quickly and got their name back, but it is possible.

    Based on some of the other programing, and origonal movies. they put out I don’t blame them for wanting to distance themselves and try something new. Name me one decent original movie they’ve done? Even Stargate they got second hand.

  • Stargate was awesome, but you’re right; it was second hand. And they ended it. Just like they ended Invisible Man, Andromeda, Farscape, Lexx, and a load of other shows they were given. Their best shows were not developed for them, but they bought the rights after the fact . . . and promptly ran them into the ground (Enterprise anyone?).

    I did not know that’s why the WWF had to change their name. It might sound like a dumb question, but wasn’t the wrestling federation around before the Wildlife Federation? I can understand how a series of acronyms would get confusing, but wouldn’t it be different for a full name?

  • Dr Squishy

    Several of the shows you mentioned did not come to Sci-Fi until syndication. Enterprise had already finished its run, I believe on the ratings powerhouse of the UPN, before it came over. With that fantastic track record of series, plus original films, its no surprise they want to go in a different direction.

    The Wildlife fund was started in 1961, until 1970’s the WWE was known as WWWF the World Wide Wrestling Federation.

  • That’s right. I never actually followed Enterprise past the opening credits of the first episode. And to be fair Farscape and Lexx (while not yet in syndication) weren’t made for a US network anyway.