77 comments
Mike deHilster
1. iggy
If their going to take "science" and "fiction" out of the title of the channel, why not just call it "SighFie" instead? That's how I feel about the change...
Pablo Defendini
2. pablodefendini
A couple of quotes from the article are particulalry telling:
“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.
Mr. Howe said Sci Fi looks at its branding every couple of years. He added that when new executives join the network, they usually ask if it has ever thought about changing the name.

This is a classic case of some idiot suit wanting to distance themselves from "those mouthbreathers who dig spaceships and aliens and live in their parents' basement".
As a fan of science fiction, I find this incredibly insulting. It's like now that they're doing well, on the coat-tails of shows like Battlestar Galactica, no less, they feel they don't need us anymore. I'm sure they won't change their SEO tags from "Scifi" to "syfy", though...
You know what becomes irrelevant after this Friday's BSG? Syfy does.
Irene Gallo
3. Irene
I'm not defending SighFi here -- their first mistake was to pick the name SciFi to begin with, their second mistake is, WHO ON EARTH could think SyFy is cool! It'll be a boat load of money spent for a non-change.

But ultimately, there are legions of fans that go into seizure when anyone says scifi, isn't SciFi Channel just complaining about the same associations that many of "us" do with the term?
Pawel Martin
4. pawel_z_wrocka
In Polish "syfy" is a plural of "syf", which used to be a slang name for syphilis, now a general pejorative term, meaning (approximately) mess, dirt, etc. How very appropriate!
Torie Atkinson
5. Torie
Also hilarious: their new tagline sounds like the beginning of a spam subject line.
Pablo Defendini
6. pablodefendini
And they hired Landor Associates for the rebrand, no less. According to their focus groups of the 18-34 demo, "Syfy" is more txt friendly. Reason number 45,029 for why focus groups are insanely stupid.
Pawel Martin
7. pawel_z_wrocka
Pablo,

What about "Caprica"?

Hell, to think of a BSG franchise with a "syfy" logo makes me wanna throw up.
Jason Ramboz
8. jramboz
I've posted my initial reaction on my blog.

More substantial reaction will be forthcoming once the mouth foam evaporates.
William Donohue
9. William Donohue
"In Polish "syfy" is a plural of "syf", which used to be a slang name for syphilis"

This reinforces my first tweet on this, that SyFy sounds too much like syphilis - "SyFy: Imagine Greater insanity coming from corporate HQ"

http://twitter.com/wdonohue
Patrick Nielsen Hayden
10. pnh
Speaking as a veteran of many meetings that made decisions which in retrospect seem perfectly wrong, I wish to assure my esteemed colleague Pablo that folly and error can be committed by people outfitted in the most casual of clothing, and likewise, by people from all departments of a publishing company.
Jennifer L. Meyer
11. JLMeyer
Syfy?
When I tried to pronounce that I came up with something that reminded me of the word syphilis.
Funny.

sigh. I always wanted to rename that station the Horror network (couldn't believe the number of B-grade horror movies that is on.. maybe my timing is just bad?)

Jennifer
Edit- I see William Donohue's comment now.
Jason Ramboz
12. jramboz
@pablodefendini, 2

Did you miss this quote?

“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.
Pawel Martin
14. pawel_z_wrocka
@ jramboz

I totally agree with your post. I read the article you mention. Ugh. I think I won't be watching "Warehouse 13" after all.
Pawel Martin
15. pawel_z_wrocka
And to quote the largest English-Polish Web dictionary (ling.pl), "syf" is: crap, shit, junk, or
syphilis...

Waaay to go.
Constance Cochran
16. ccochran
“We’ll get the heritage and the track record of success, and we’ll build off of that to build a broader, more open and accessible and relatable and human-friendly brand.”

...that disassociates them from the very genre that brought them the success in the first place.
William Donohue
17. BrundageScott
Are you telling me you guys won't still tune in for "T-Rex 6: T-Rex in the Hood," Sundays at 2pm?
William Donohue
18. WADO
I think SyFy would make an marvelous addition to this grouping:

http://spacesick.blogspot.com/2009/03/evil-megacorporation-rebranding.html
William Donohue
19. Frank Drebbin
Plural of Syfy is irrelevents corporates bullshits
Theresa DeLucci
20. theresa_delucci
Syfy? What bullshit. How is that any different from SciFi? It's pronounced the same! People won't figure it out when they see shit like Mansquito and Manhattan Suffers Another Mega-Disaster? So insulting to the network's fanbase. Are they not going to air Aztec Rex anymore? Was that supposed to be for a broad audience? Or are we going to get more reality series like their low-rated, forgettable Mad Mad House?
Josh Kidd
21. joshkidd
I think from now on, the network's name will be pronounced "siffy" by me.

Is there any chance that this was planned to coincide with the end of BSG?
Jason Ramboz
24. jramboz
@thumbelinablues, 22

That link needs a disclaimer: "May cause out-loud laughter, which will make your coworkers look at you like you're insane... even more than normal."

Er, not that I had any experience anything like that just now. Of course.
William Donohue
25. KatG
Actually, the main reason they're changing the name is not to distance themselves from SF. It's so they can trademark the channel into a distinct brand that can then be marketed on multi-media platforms. Sci-Fi is a generic term for t.v. and film science fiction and fantasy, not a company name. They can copyright Sci Fi Channel, but it can easily get confused with other things. Anyone else can use the word Sci Fi in their company or product name. Whereas no one will be able to mess with Syfy because it is not a word, but a name, and they will own it completely.

That this also alienates and pisses off SF fans doesn't worry them because where else are we all going to go? They are the only SFF dedicated cable channel in the U.S. and related markets, they re-run other channels' SFF shows and films, they've got no direct competition. They're competing against TBS and ABC Family and things like that, hence bizarre line-ups like those reality ghost chasing shows and specials about psychics, because they're trying to drag the general cable audience in. And it's working, which means they can branch into other products. In their view, all us SF fans will get over it, just like we got over their doing a remake of Battlestar Galactica. We didn't want it revived, but then, oh look, we did and liked it better. So they'll ignore any grumblings now over the name change.

The SF business is booming, and so they aren't going to follow the book model of maintaining genre purity and viewing the SF as all separate from the rest of the world. I think the name change they picked is stupid. I think their approach is often stupid. But if we can get a wider universe going on t.v., maybe we could have some competing SF channels that would be better at it.
Irene Gallo
26. Irene
@22 Awesome....we should put that in the post above the cut.
William Donohue
27. Sean Tevis
If the channel were actually dedicated to Science Fiction I'd be aghast, but with their programming schedule featuring "Scare Tactics", "ECW", and many more shows that are sans Science Fiction I can't really complain.

In the same vein, MTV should have change their name years ago when they quit showing music-related programming and decided pseudo-reality, game, and teen shows were more important to them.
Richard Fife
28. R.Fife
Yet another reason I am glad I don't watch TV anymore... My prediction, though, is in line with the above comment that those who watch it will still watch it. The "geeks and dysfunctional, antisocial boys in their basements with video games and stuff like that" have no recourse, really, not less they just want to catch what they can on Hulu (like me).

Although, I do not expect this rebranding to help their numbers. Yes, their viewership might continue to increase as it has, and they will say it is because they are spiffy syfy, but we will all know it is a lie, and will cry into our blankets, and they will cry into their beds stuffed full of cash money.
Irene Gallo
29. Irene
KatG:

Nice post...

"That this also alienates and pisses off SF fans doesn't worry them because where else are we all going to go? "

....And the above is what I keep coming back to. They _already_ showed that they are either ignorant or uncaring of core fan concerns by not understanding the baggage that "scifi" has in the community. (Ressonable or otherwise..i;ve fought both sides of that fence)Coupled with the fact that the core community doesn't like the phrase for the same reasons they stated, I'm wondering why there is so much anger towards them now.

Again, it's a DUMB name, they now have had two dumb names. Good going guys.

(As an aside -- my one and only expierience with a real focus group had just about the same results SyciFiy has had....lots of money spent to end up right where we started.)
Cassie Ammerman
31. leanoir
@25 KatG: That's the first intelligent argument I've heard for their name change.

Of course, they chose a stupid name to change to. But hey, BSG is ending soon and then we won't have to watch it anymore anyway. It's totally going to be "siffy" from now on.
Kate Baker
32. Kate_Baker
From the article:

"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."

Uh. I would think with the recent rise in 'cool to be geek' culture, that's exactly what they'd want to be aiming for.

As far as easier to text, well, f him if he just couldn't type out an extra 'c' and 'i' on his Iphone.

Geek.

Err. I mean...

What the FRAK!

Also, as far as the "female audience"... I don't think I'm alone here when I say I'm not the only one who was upset when shit horror flicks, daytime soap operas and wrestling took over my well written dystopian futures set in space!
Jason Ramboz
33. jramboz
@Irene, 29

I don't think it's just the name change that the community is reacting against. While it's a stupid name, there are other ways they could have pitched it that would have gotten our support.

They could have said, "Hey guys, we know this is kinda silly, but it's a copyright thing and we just need to appeal to a bigger audience. We're still on your side, but we want to educate the world that there's more to SF than aliens and spaceships. And hey, here's some more BSG and Caprica for you faithful while we revamp."

Had they said that, then maybe it wouldn't be so bad. But instead, they felt the need to insult their core audience and say explicitly that they want to distance themselves from us. Fine, I'll just take my money elsewhere, away from them and their sponsors.
Angela Korra'ti
34. annathepiper
As one of the female viewers that they feel they need to re-brand for, I would like to add that I too find this name change insulting. They're showing science fiction, for chrissakes. I don't want to have it presented to me with some sort of "oh but it's not REALLY science fiction, because science fiction is only for geeks" attitude. I AM a geek. I'm proud to watch science fiction shows, and I don't need some sort of rebrand to make it "cooler".
Pawel Martin
35. pawel_z_wrocka
They could also check the name in other languages. Yeah, I know, Polish market is not important by any means, but still... thinking of their promotional campaign in Poland makes me laugh.
eric orchard
36. orchard
Quick! Has anyone trademarked Mist'r-ee?
Joe Sherry
37. jsherry
Le Sigh.

Er.

Lay Sy.

KatG's argument makes sense from a branding perspective, and I'm not sure I even disagree with Sci-Fi feeling the need to rebrand and develop a new corporate image.

But SyFy?

Really? That's the best they could come up with? The name continues to evoke Sci-Fi in its pronunciation but looks like some exec's 4 year old came up with the spelling.

It's the worst of both worlds.

I mean, if you're going to rebrand, then just rebrand for frak's sake.
Jamie Grove
38. jamiegrove
Total freakin disaster... SyFail

SciFi is SciFi! Join the revolution!

http://tinyurl.com/scifiisscifi
Richard Fife
39. R.Fife
Here-here jramboz:

They definately could have at least been tactful. Did they ever think "SciFi is associated with basement-nerds, I wonder why?" Maybe the execs have gotten so out of touch with the world that they forgot basement-nerds are still around. Iunno.

So, instead of Saturn, will the new logo be a stylized close up of "Syf"? *snerk*
William Donohue
40. IvyR
They think they're missing the female audience? Have they been to a con? Ever? We comprise close to half of the audience.

I would have hoped market research would comprise, not stereotypes, but actual research.
Joe Sherry
41. jsherry
Oh! And "imagine greater"? Really guys?
William Donohue
42. J. M. Strother
One word. Dumb.
William Donohue
43. ntraft
@25 KatG is right on.

See, this is why naming a product is such a fine line to tread.

I've been shouting for years for people to stop with the acronyms and start making up their own words. Don't call it HDDVD, call it bluray or something.

HOWEVER, you have to be VERY CAREFUL when you make up words so that THEY DON'T SOUND COMPLETELY LAME AND RETARDED.

Also, if you are trying to distance yourself from a word, it may help to actually use a different word -- not the same word with a different spelling.
Jeffrey Richard
44. neutronjockey
A sign of failing in a flailing economy. Though, I wonder what the costs of changing brand identity network-wide --- and the effectiveness of re-branding vice stimulating the existing brand...especially with a brand name and tagline that are already being taken through the wringer.
Josh Kidd
45. joshkidd
It might be fun to suggest alternate new names for the network.

What if they just decided that the network should now be known as "Frak"? Anyone? Anyone?
Nathan Lilly
46. nelilly
For an alternate take on rebranding... check out SyFy Portal, now rebranded as Airlock Alpha
Dave Thompson
47. DKT
Does this mean someone else can create a real Sci-Fi network now?
Nicole Cardiff
48. NicoleCardiff
I'm with Sean @ 27. Excepting BSG, it's been a channel I haven't watched for years, littered with terrible made for TV movies and Stargate spinoffs, and I'm sure they aren't going to make their programming any better. They've insulted my intelligence and taste for so long that I have difficulty caring that they're insulting my geekhood as well.
Jason Ramboz
49. jramboz
@NicoleCardiff, 48

Like I said, they're just making explicit what their programming has been implying for years! :)
Torie Atkinson
50. Torie
I hate the new name change, but I'm surprised at all this Sci Fi Channel hate! I've always been a huge fan of their cheesy weekend B-movies (no one DOES those anymore!), and they occasionally syndicate classics like the Twilight Zone and Star Trek. They're also pretty smart about picking up and continuing otherwise abandoned SF gems like MST3K and Sliders to compliment original stuff like Farscape and BSG.

I think if they want to "re-vamp" their brand they should consider, you know, better programming. I could think of a million better uses of the WWE timeslot!
Dave Robinson
51. DaveRobinson
I'm a science fiction fan.

I spend lots of money on books, comics, movies and other things related to science fiction. I haven't paid much attention to the Sci Fi channel and now I know why:

They don't want anything to do with me.

Well I guess they're going to get their way, because after the way they went about explaining the change of name I don't want anything to do with them.
Chris Meadows
52. Robotech_Master
Anyone else remember the last great example of nonsense-name-branding, for visual art displayed on a screen? Neen. Of course, nobody ever uses the term anymore (though, in fact, the macro displayed at the head of this article could be considered an example of "neen" art).

I was discussing this with my friends on-line, and at first I was rather upset with it. But then my friends led me to realize there are actually two fundamental issues involved: what the Skiffy-spokesman is saying, and what the network is actually doing.

What he's saying is annoying, yeah. ("Boys in basements"? I'll have them know that I'm actually living on my parents' first floor—because I've got a Taylor spatial frame on my broken leg and couldn't make it up or down stairs.) The whole bit about trying to distance themselves from science fiction is insulting.

But oddly enough, it's also not true. SciFi is still showing a lot of science-fiction and speculative-fiction stuff even if it has mixed in a bunch of non-SF. Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, Eureka, Farscape, Stargate, Sanctuary. Even their made-for-TV shlock movies tend to have SFish (or fantasy or horror, which are closely related) elements.

I really don't like the insulting tone that the representative takes in the article. In fact, it seems to me like SyFy needs to SyFyre its publicists and get new ones. But it doesn't necessarily mean this is the end of science-fiction programming on the channel.
Irene Gallo
53. Irene
I'd also like to welcome our SyFy Channel brethren to working at a company that, like Tor, they will always have to spell out for people.
Jason Ramboz
54. jramboz
@Irene, 53

I know, it took me forever to find this site. Tour.com has NOTHING to do with SF! ;)
Irene Gallo
55. Irene
@54 - it's true. When talking to non-genre people, the conversation is always "I work at Tor-t-o-r-no-u" and I'm still asked if I get to travel a lot.

So, hello peoples that work at "Syfy-no-c-or-i"! I feel your pain.
Chris Meadows
56. Robotech_Master
That's odd. I would have thought "Tor" would be confused for "Taur" as in "Centaur", but not "tour" as in "too-er". Am I pronouncing something wrong?
Joe Sherry
57. jsherry
@56: I don't think so, but it wasn't until a couple of years ago when my ex-wife explained to me that tore and tour weren't pronounced the same. I don't know if it was my Staten Island childhood or just weird pronunciation, but I have to make an effort to say "too-er"
William Donohue
58. Edzzzzzzzzzzzzz
That channel has been junk for a long time and this won't change anything.
Pablo Defendini
59. pablodefendini
@56/57

It is Tor, pronounced like "Taur", but you'd be surprised at how many non-genre people don't apply Occam's Razor, and expect a more complicated spelling.

As much as this "SyFy" idiocy really pisses me off, I too, feel for the "Syfy-no-c-or-i-but-lots-of-y's" people.

But not too much. They brought it on themselves, after all.
Lydia Sharp
60. Lydia
I think SyFy is more confusing than SciFi.

Yes, they're both pronounced the same, but seeing SyFy makes me go "Huh?" and I need a moment to make the connection...which really takes me back to SciFi anyway, just to understand WTF they're talking about. Even though I know what it's supposed to be, I still look at it and say "Siffy" in my head. Extremely frustrating.

Did they really think that a genre controlled by the most intelligent of audiences is going to accept such a dummified version of an abbreviation?

It's insulting, to say the least, and it makes me glad I don't have cable.
- -
61. heresiarch
They should have gone with "Skiffy"--only half as stupid, equally unfamiliar to mundanes, and fans would be pleased at the shout out.
William Donohue
62. KatG
I wish I could take credit for brilliant perceptiveness, but the truth is I got the brand trademark plans from Entertainment Weekly's piece on the issue where they have quotes about it from the S-we don't care-F channel itself.

They're not just dealing with the channel -- the channel is a platform. If you're buying BSG, Eureka, etc. DVD's, they're getting a cut. Their web channel and other websites using their content -- they get a cut. Buy a Stargate T-shirt or a tie-in novel, they get a cut, and so on. A network does a SFF show -- they pick up the re-runs and get a cut.

I think that we can say that they do some good things -- things that have helped promote SFF -- but they go about it in a bad way. Another SF channel as competition would help. But this is the syndication market now -- a multimedia octopus, and the former Sci Fi Channel was in there first.
William Donohue
63. Savage Steve King
Remember -- beat them down with their own marketing snafu. Tell everyone you know to start calling it the 'Siffy' channel.
Jeffrey Richard
64. neutronjockey
Pablo@59
It is Tor, pronounced like "Taur"


Meebee up yer neck of the woods pardner... ;)
seth johnson
65. seth
I would have thought that the Science Fiction genre would become quite popular in this economic depression. When times are difficult, I think stories about the future, etc. become more attractive.

Seth
Jeffrey Richard
66. neutronjockey
No Seth, we're really not needing anymore dystopian settings...
LT Tortora
67. Lucubratrix
So... the Channel Formerly Known As SciFi wants to disassociate itself from the pallid nerds who live in their parents' basements... by attracting new viewers who will tune in to a channel called SyFy (which for some reason makes me think of a strong automotive cleaning product--something Billy Mays might sell)... and these viewers will realize that it's still science fiction-esque programming and retreat in horror... while the people who aren't ashamed to admit they watch that sort of thing finally get sick of it and flee to hulu and Netflix. Genius in marketing, that.
Dave Robinson
68. DaveRobinson
I'm still trying to figure out how anyone could pronounce Tor like tour. They're completely different sounds to me. Tor is just or with a T tacked on the front of it, and tour has an 'oo' sound.
Richard Fife
69. R.Fife
Faster speaking northerners have a habit of dropping "ou" sounds in favor of simple short "o" sounds. I think its all the coffee they drink, or perhaps an attempt to generate body heat to stay warm. Not overly sure.
William Donohue
70. Lsana
As it happens, one of the reasons that they gave for the name change, that "SyFy" is easier to text, is complete BS. A friend decided to do the experiment last night. She found that of the 3 possible options--"Sci Fi," "SF," or "SyFy"--"Sci Fi" was actually the easiest to text due to auto complete. "SF" was next. "SyFy" was a pain.
lanyo lanyo
71. lanyo
i had recently seen this new name somewhere and it made me laugh. i also read siffy. and siffy, just sounds like a slang name for syphilis. i don't even have cable, so it's kinda a moot point for me, but it just seems some of those dystopian futures where things lose their spellings and meanings, until 2000 years ahead, archaeologists think syfy is some sort of houshold appliance.
also, re: tor/tour, my sisters say i pronounce things funny, i say sure with almost 2 syllables, shoe-er. so i can see people who have short clipped phrasing confusing the 2 tors tho i wouldn't be able to
William Donohue
72. no2pencil
This network would have suffered the fate of Ha! without BSG - a show that deserved to be on HBO, and whose own producers have said everything about SciFi hurt their ratings.

I could have told siffy, for much less $, that the name they were looking for was "OnSpec."

To fans, it would have looked like an evocation of SpecFic. To writers, it would have looked like a rare moment of truth telling. As in, "Where do you guys so consistently find so much (other than BSG) utter garbage?"

"On Spec."
William Donohue
74. KatG
Yeah, I don't really get why they would go with it either, and not just because of the Polish thing (which now encourages me to call it the Syphilis Channel.) If the goal is to move it away from a direct connection to science fiction, to attract women who presumably find science fiction and related terms too macho but who are apparently the channel's big growth demographic, to extend programming into pro wrestling, reality shows and other stuff that is not SFFH, why not come up with a made-up word name that has no connection with science fiction at all, phonetically or otherwise, including forms of Speculative? If you're going to totally rechristen and rebrand as well as brand, then why do it half-way?

Plus, the made-up word SyFy has already been used by other groups and companies. SyFy Portal is a fan/news website as has already been noted. Didn't anyone in the marketing company they hired run an Internet search? Which means that their quest to have a name that no one else can trademark/use -- probably going to fail legally. I think it's the stupidity as much as the insults that have SF fans stunned.

It will be interesting to see if this ends up New Coke or Exxon.
Michael Ikeda
75. mikeda
KatG@74

They apparently did do at least a little bit of internet search. Or someone did. Since NBCU apparently bought the rights to the brandname SyFy Portal in February.
William Donohue
76. ShyAnne
Just one more step toward me getting rid of my cable television service entirely. It's rapidly going the way of my old telephone land line. Irrelevant. Unmourned. Let the baa-ing masses watch wrestling and Octopus 2 and CSI:Who the Hell Cares Anymore and Celebrity Biggest Loser. I can get what I need (legally, even) either from a download or streaming video.
Andrew Ty
77. eldritch00
Something a bit off the main point, I'm afraid, but once they change the domain name, I guess it's now really the end of SciFiction (which has remained up, despite its closure a couple of years ago).

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