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The curious world of marketing has brought us the rebranding of the SciFi channel, now reincarnated as the SyFy Channel. In a world where neologisms and intentional mispellings of common words has become the only way (tumblr, flickr, etc.) to secure something recognizable as a domain on the web, the SyFy Channel gave up its monopoly on the word scifi in order to birth the new domain of SyFy. Curious indeed.
The reason for changing their name in the first place, Engler said, was to get “something that was ownable,” and “to distinguish [their] brand from the category.” This has been widely reported and is really the only sensible reasoning, because why else would you change the name of something that’s currently successful? So why, then, didn’t they change the name completely, so it didn’t still sound like the genre whose fans love it so? That, Engler said, is because they “wanted to have [their] cake and eat it, too,” meaning they could tweak the brand just enough to allow them to trademark it but keep it close enough that it didn’t change their underlying identity.
In another interview, SyFy President David Howe explains,
Our development strategy has not changed, nor do I expect it to, other than we’ll still be doing creative, smart, risk-taking, ambitious programming, both in scripted and reality.
The conversion of SciFi to SyFy rests on the success of the channel’s recent high-quality original programming and future shows like Caprica, Warehouse 13, and Stargate: SGU that promise to keep the channel going strong. While I wholeheartedly support SyFy for bringing shows like Battlestar Galactica and the Stargate franchise to television, I do hope that they figure out what to do with all that airtime in between the good shows. Movies of the week like “Snakehead Terror” “Wyvern” “War Wolves” and “Yeti”, while hilarious, seem like evidence that money might be better spent on more of that “ambitious programming” that Howe speaks of.
If SyFy really wants to update itself along with its new name, set the bar for cable television as high as possible, and maybe consider easing up on those movies of the week. I hear Virtuality could use a home…
For your viewing pleasure, Snakehead Terror: