I Mostly Understand the Reason for Renaming Syfy

Renaming the SCI FI channel to Syfy is proof positive that the management of the network are a bunch of booger-picking morons who wouldn’t know a phaser from a frisbee.

…at least, that is what I thought until about five minutes ago.

As I wrapped up my lunch break I stumbled across the infamous March 2009 announcement on SCI FI that they were changing their name to Syfy which stated,

“Building on 16 years of water-cooler programming and soaring ratings growth following its most-watched year ever, SCI FI Channel is evolving into Syfy, beginning this summer, Dave Howe, president, SCI FI, announced today.”

Besides our community which appreciated the, "water-cooler" shout out, more than 1,000 comments were immediately posted on their site ranging from, “STUPID!!!!!”, “Is it April Fool’s Day already?”, to “DUMB! DUMB! DUMB!” Websites and blogs across the internet began attributing Syfy President Dave Howe as saying, “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."

Like all my fellow geeks I wrote Syfy off as a marketing fiasco, full of sound and fury signifying nothing. Surprisingly, I was correct, from a certain point of view.

Linked to the original announcement is a response from Mr. Howe who presents a direct and honest line-by-line response to the questions surrounding the name change. You should definitely read the whole article, but here are some key points that are important to understand. Please note all quoted items come from the Mr. Howe response:

  1. “ESPN and COKE are both powerful brands. But if they were called SPORTS or SODA, no one would know why they're different or why they're worth checking out.” – This is the key statement that explains the rationale for the change. Have you ever tried to search Google with the phrase sci-fi with the hopes of finding news about an upcoming Eureka? The change begins to make sense, doesn’t it? Syfy is a brand. Sci-fi is a genre.
  2. “Many non-SCI FI Channel viewers think "sci-fi" is only about space, aliens and the future.” – Ok, this is reasonable point and also hits home. How many times have I tried to explain that sci-fi is not about little green men? It would seem Syfy struggles with the same question.
  3. “Q: Then why did you say, ‘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’? A: Howe: ‘We didn't say this! This was a quote by a TV historian named Tim Brooks, speaking to TV Week, which has been mistakenly attributed to us by some people. That is not our view, and we wholeheartedly disagree with what Brooks had to say. He does not work for the network, and he hasn't for more than 10 years.’” – This back and forth needed to be included as a reminder to always check one’s sources. People went bananas with the Syfy change and bloody murder at this quote attributed to Mr. Howe. It would seem a lot of people owe Mr. Howe an apology. He didn't say it.
  4. “Q: Is this just an excuse to put more wrestling on your channel?” I love this question because it shows that Mr. Howe took a no-holds barred approach. His answer?, “ECW has successfully brought new younger viewers to our channel. We have no plans to increase the amount of wrestling on the channel.” Bravo Mr. Howe, bravo. You didn't avoid the question and answered it truthfully. Like it or not ECW is one of the highest rated programs on Syfy. If you like your Eureka and Warehouse 13 you also need consistent money-makers to fund operations.

So there you have it. Do I now adore the name Syfy? Not really. Do I understand their rationale behind the change? Much more so now. In the long run I am starting to believe they made the right decision? Yes, yes I do. I respect their desire to broaden the perception of their scope from, “Aliens, Space and the Future” to sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal and beyond.

Thank you Syfy. I’m mostly onboard now. Mostly. (Mr. Howe, I keed! I keed! this is an Aliens shout-out).

Syfy Home Page
SCI FI Channel to become Syfy
SCI FI president Dave Howe answers your Syfy questions

11 Responses to "I Mostly Understand the Reason for Renaming Syfy"
  1. frakkintalos says:

    Solai – Cooler than the other side of the pillow.

  2. Chris says:

    I thought the name change was a little lame when I first heard but now I don’t really care that much. I buy point #1 and believe he no one from the channel said #3 (Though I’m sure it’s been said many times behind closed doors).

    Do they really think the name “Syfy” will make people think the channel encompasses more than science fiction? Not! How do you derive Fantasy, horror and wrestling from Syfy without seeing the listings?

  3. mathhound says:

    Good article even if I don’t agree with it. He didn’t answer the question about sypy being an abbreviation for syphilis. Which just goes to show they he chose which questions to answer and not answer very carefully. Also, he doesn’t provide the data on the naming testing so he can say it proved anything he wants.(I’m a stats person – show me the data!) I also agree with Chris above. Still good article.

  4. Stroogie says:

    I was a little peeved at first, but I understand the branding argument. After all, who says that the “SyFy” channel is the only place you’ll find Sci-Fi television just because of their name? This way, they present themselves as a particular entity. I still think they had some other lame motivations for it, but I can get over it.

  5. Bedlam says:

    I agree mostly with mathound, and the article is good. I also, understand the reason for the rebranding. However, SyFy, ask yourselves this question: Why did you call your network Si-Fi in the first place? Its like when the Outdoor Life Network became Versus. Whatever. Who really cares. Only the seriously interested people are going to watch your programming anyway.

  6. bigdamnhero says:

    Explanation 1 makes a lot of sense from the corporate standpoint. Scifi is a generic term, and Skiffy can’t legally defend their rights to it. I’m glad they decided to explain it… without the explanation, it comes across as a lame attempt by Skiffy at sounding hip.

  7. Fenatic says:

    Thanks for the article. Why was the line “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” quoted in all of the press releases when it wasn’t even said by someone associated with the network?

  8. LordCorbin says:

    All of this was obvious from jump. I don’t care. I don’t care because they cancel great shows and fill their programming blocks with terrible z-grade movies and wrestling. Even if I still had a television I wouldn’t give them my advertising dollars.

  9. DawnAZ says:

    I wouldn’t mind the name change so much if the quality of their made-for-TV movies improved. Kidding aside (though I wasn’t kidding) I think you brought up great points. The reality is it’s in all our best interest that this channel succeed. It’s still the only mainly Sci-fi game in town (to the best of my knowledge) and they do support some quality shows. I think I’m over my fussy-fit about the name change too.

  10. Daisywitch says:

    So this explains why the name change. And I do see the reasoning behind it, yeah. However, I still maintain my position that the new name “Syfy” is weak and goofy looking. Not to mention the confusion on how to pronounce it. Is is s?-f? or s?-f?? Personally, I think bigdamnhero has the rights of it. They would have been better served renaming the channel “Skiffy”. That’s how everyone I know pronounced “Sci Fi” anyway. Of course as far as I’m concerned, they could have saved a whole lot of money by not changing the name and just sacked their original movie production department and begun having their original SERIES production department make their movies. Viewership would skyrocket then. Never could understand how a network could have such outstanding original tv series’, but produce such cheesy original movies.

  11. Daisywitch says:

    CLARIFICATION: I noticed that this site didn’t pick up my diacritical marks when defining the pronunciation of Syfy. I ment “sigh-fie” (as in fee-FI-fo-fum) or “sih-fee”. Sorry for the weird ??’s of the first post.

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