In an attempt to appeal beyond its somewhat eccentric fan base of viewers and own a more unique trademark, the Sci Fi Channel is being rebranded as Syfy starting July 7, 2009.
The Different Meanings of “SyFy” Around The World
The rebranding of Sci Fi has already exposed NBC to some awkward cultural sensitivities. In Poland, the term “syfy” translates as “garbage” or worse, is slang for “syphilis“. In Japan, the phonetic pronunciation of Sci Fi means nothing at all.
Looking Beyond The Aliens And Spaceships Of The Sci Fi Channel
The channel, which currently broadcasts mostly alien and space-related dramas, is rebranding to include the wider and more lucrative gamut of fantasy programming. NBC Universal executives believe that the term “SyFy” is more fantasy-friendly than “Sci Fi”. The channel will also lose the rings of Saturn that have been a logo element of the brand since it’s debut in 1992.
The rebranding “gives us an opportunity to attract new viewers to broaden our programming base and bring in broader elements of fantasy and action and superhero”, Dave Howe, president of Sci Fi said in an interview.
Mr. Howe said the fact that 13 of the top 20 biggest grossing movies of all time were either science fiction, fantasy or super-hero related had guided the company’s decision to rebrand.
The 2002 series Taken, created by director Steven Spielberg, which centers on alien abduction, made Sci Fi the most-watched cable network during the 10 nights when the series aired, Mr. Howe said. But it was not until it launched the Battlestar Galactica series in 2003 that Sci Fi was transformed into a must-watch network for science fiction aficionados. The darker remake of the 1970s television series about a colony of humans at war with robots of their own creation did for Sci Fi what shows such as The Sopranos accomplished for HBO. The series ended in March and a prequel, Caprica, will begin airing in 2010.
Sci Fi Channel vs SyFy Channel: Brand Ownership Issues
The other reason for the rebranding is IP ownership. The term “Sci Fi Channel” is too generic of a name to legally own and protect. Competitors could easily create new properties like “Sci Fi Network” or “Sci Fi TV” and NBC Universal would have a tough time blocking them. But the term “SyFy” is unique enough to protect, yet still close enough to the current name to maintain audience association.
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Frank Wilson is a retired teacher with over 30 years of combined experience in the education, small business technology, and real estate business. He now blogs as a hobby and spends most days tinkering with old computers. Wilson is passionate about tech, enjoys fishing, and loves drinking beer.