Sci Fi channel renames itself SyFy, insults all current customers

The cable content provider formerly known as the Sci Fi channel has renamed itself “SyFy”. Here is their reasoning for this rather bizarre change:

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. 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. It’s somewhat cooler and better than the name ‘Science Fiction.’ But even the name Sci Fi is limiting. … (Changing the name to Syfy) gives us a unique word and it gives us the opportunities to imbue it with the values and the perception that we want it to have.

So in one giant leap, the SyFy channel has both insulted their entire existing client base and devised a new name that sounds like a sexually transmitted disease. It also means nasty things in Polish, apparently.

There are several things here that just don’t make sense. The new name is appallingly terrible, so obviously bad that I can’t imagine anyone proposing it except as a bad joke. I swear it comes from the same marketing team that came up with “Wii”: mind you, that was a huge success, so maybe I’m just not “hip” or “with it” enough.

And then there is the premise that a channel that has done well for itself in an understood niche suddenly wants to throw that niche away and go “mass market”. Where did these idiots learn marketing? Differentiation is what brings people to a product or service- if every cable content provider offers the same bland stuff, then why choose one over the other? At that point, the only distinguishing feature becomes price, and who wants to be in that kind of market?

I find the whole “Sci Fi is associated with geeks and dysfunctional boys” premise to be particularly galling. I think Science Fiction is widely appreciated by men and women, and women who enjoy Sci Fi will be just as insulted by that statement as men. Furthermore, even if the stereotype is valid, these “dysfunctional boys” are the ones that have made the network financially successful to date. Insulting them to “broaden the market” is not a wise path to take.

I really hope someone else comes along and names their network “The Science Fiction Channel” with the byline “By Geeks, for geeks”. They could, oh, I dunno, have science fiction and fantasy movies, science/geeky related news programs about upcoming TV series and movies or science in general… I’d subscribe to that.

2 thoughts on “Sci Fi channel renames itself SyFy, insults all current customers”

  1. *shrug* The other day I watched some TV programming guru’s seriously put forth the premise that we will have a lot more “serious” shows such as crime dramas and relationship shows now, and the market for fantasy and comedy will dry up because …

    … in bad economic times people like to see people like themselves solving problems.

    Yeeeaaaaah, sure they do. Thank god in the 30’s they didn’t succumb to escapist crap. I mean, could you imagine if the Wizard of Oz hadn’t been about serious down to earth problem solving? We could still be in a depression!


    As to the Sywhatever channel … well, it wasn’t the “geeks” that made the profitable, it was the advertisers. And, since tech toy gadgets are one of the first things people quit buying when money is tight ( so the logic goes ) you need to concentrate on detergent, toilet paper, groceries all that stuff, the purchase of which is controlled by ( supposedly ) boring unimaginative housefrau. So you need to attract the people that watch dull boring TV to attract the advertisers that want to contact dull boring people.

    Of course, the fact that geeks need to wipe their butts and that soccer moms watch StarTrek and Buffy doesn’t fit into the mass marketing paradigm.

  2. I’m not sure where all of Sci Fi channel’s revenues come from, but supposedly last year was their most profitable year ever. So, now that they’ve found a successful niche, its time to screw it up, I guess 😉

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