How SyFy Is Planning To Be A Brand?

Published 5 years ago by , Updated June 27th, 2013 at 3:07 pm,

syfy p How SyFy Is Planning To Be A Brand?

With their big announcement back in March about changing their network name to SyFy, it looks like The Sci-Fi Channel is taking various steps to ensure we understand it’s their brand and not just Sci-Fi.  They’re looking to expand into various categories so they’re not restricted to just Science Fiction and hoping this helps branch out into different markets.  But what are they planning to help make that happen? Here’s a couple of things they’re working on and a bit later, I point out the definition of SyFy and I even have a few suggestions to help them along the way.

Unfinished Business

The Sci-Fi Channel, soon to be SyFy is looking to hit it big with a new project called Unfinished Business. The 2-hour movie is being looked at as a potential pilot for a series if it does well enough.

The important item to note here is that this production is in association with Will Smith’s production company, Overbrook Entertainment, and they’re touting this for everything it’s worth. Can you blame them?

This newest effort by Sci-Fi is being produced through Overbrook Entertainment with Smith, James Lassiter and Ken Stovitz executive producing. Sally Robinson is writing the pilot script and Mikael Salomon (Band of Brothers) is attached to direct. Both Robinson and Salomon are also executive producers.

Unfinished Business is about a cop who connects with memories of dead people.  As it stands right now, some are already comparing this to Sci-Fi’s latest psychic / magic cop show called the Dresden Files. I remember Dresden Files and I remember not really being pulled into it, depsite wanting to be.

But with the insight of Overbrook behind the project, will it be better than a seemingly ripped off theme of the character from Lost, Miles?  Miles who can read the psychic left over thoughts of dead people. Heck, if Hurley plays chess with them, I guess any show is possible at this point.

As it stands, Sci-Fi is hoping to combine the ratings generating popularity of a police drama with their special kind of fantasy programming.

But as Sci-Fi changes its brand to SyFy, it looks to present more original content to help develop their brand image as Unfinished Business will join other pilots on the slate for our entertainment.

Riverworld

riverworld How SyFy Is Planning To Be A Brand?

Riverworld is a two-part, four-hour movie based on the novels by the late Phillip Jose Farmer and it is planned to air in 2010. The story takes place in a mysterious world where everyone who died, gets reborn along this mysterious river. The story will follow a combat photojournalist who awakens in this mysterious world. (Didn’t they already do a Riverworld? Didn’t it already pan out?)

Phantom

Phantom is yet one more try at making a palatable version of this masked purple hero who relies on wit and skill to undo evildoers. They say it’s been revamped for “today’s audience.” Hmm. I can’t help but wonder how they’re going to angle it toward today’s audience. Who is today’s audience?

Well, the only hope I’m seeing is that it’s written by Daniel Knauf. The same Knauf who wrote HBO’s Carnivale. If he brings that same desperate dark twist of entertainment to the screen that he did with Carnivale, it might have a chance.

Alice

I’m looking forward to Alice, the re-imagining of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Alice is being written and directed by the same man who brought us Tin Man. And Tin Man was a nice dark and entertainingly dreary take on Wizard of Oz and I’m thinking Alice has a lot more material to work with. I can’t wait!

I’m also concerned, being that Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland release date of March 2010 may dampen the impact of the small screen version of Alice!

SyFy?

sci fi logo 02 How SyFy Is Planning To Be A Brand?

A quick snippet from TV Week:

“What we love about this is we hopefully get the best of both worlds,” Mr. (Dave) Howe said. “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.”

Sci Fi is coming off the best year in its history. In primetime it ranked 13th in total viewers among ad-supported cable networks in 2008. It’s a top-10 network in both adults 18 to 49 (up 4%) and adults 25 to 54 (up 6%).

So obviously, Sci-Fi is working hard at this new image and brand though I’m not sure how much more human friendly you can make a network.  If I can thump buttons on a remote to get to a channel, I’d call that “human friendly.”

As it is, with their reinvention of themselves, I can’t help but wonder abut a few things.

I’ve been hearing about Alice for quite some time and I can’t help but wonder if they’ve stalled it long enough to release it under their new brand? It’s just pure conjecture on my part, but since Tin Man was pretty popular for them, I can’t help but wonder if they’re looking to generate news and media under their new logo.

This new brand, SyFy had me thinking. Oh lord, Bruce is thinking again. (This is when the work associates find some reason to go check their email or check on more tax paperwork.)  So they’ve stuck with something phonetically similar so at least it’s not something new to remember.

Yet, I’m not alone in being confused or miffed by the name change.  One of the original co-founders of The Sci-Fi Channel, Mitch Rubenstein, said he can’t believe the name change with the quote, “SyFy, say it’s not so!

Supposedly the Sci-Fi Channel gang had 300 ideas on the table about what new brand to make for themselves and they had to snag (buy) another websites name (SyFy Portal, Now Alpha Airlock) to make their brand. I can only imagine what the other 299 ideas on the table were!

According to Wiktionary, Syfy is the plural of syf.  Syf is Polish for dirt.  Does that make SyFy dirty?  Huh?  Who did they hire for this process? I’m guessing they don’t think Poland is considered a big demographic for them.  Dudes, I think I could have helped.

Since you didn’t call me to help rename the network, I thought I’d help you brand your programming. If you rename some of your shows, then you can truly own them too while spreading out into as many seasons as possible with every 20 episode series that comes along.

Here are just a few suggestions I’ve come up with:

  • The BSG prequel Capryca is due out in 2010.
  • I hear people like Desynation Truth.
  • I’m bummed they canceled Stargate Alantys.
  • Then there’s Dark Angyl,
  • I think they’ve got some Jerycho repeats coming?
  • Then there’s the favorite vampyre show, Moonlyte.
  • Have you seen the Outer Lymyts, that’s usually on late at night, along with the Twylyght Zone.
  • They’ve been playing Star Trek Enterpyse during the week.
  • And Star Trek, The Nyxt Gyneration.
  • And of course, there’s the ever approaching yet unnamed air date for Euryka.

I’ve said enough and made my point.

Sci-Fi is re-branding to expand.  This is obviously a plan that Dave Howe has brought with him.  As I reported back in January of 2008, on Dave Howe having become president of The Sci-Fi Channel, he’s looking to “build revenue by expanding the Sci Fi brand from the cable channel to video games and the mobile and youth markets.”  He does have an incredible proven track record, if you look at what he did with the BBC in London.  So although I’m bagging on some decisions here, I can only presume he does know what he’s doing.  Even if some initial decisions seem to be leaving the traditional Sci-Fi fan behind.

Anyone else have any ideas on the matter?  I’d love to hear them or suggestions.  For all we know, he reads Screen Rant too!

Sources: THR, SciFi Wire, Hollywood.com, Wiktionary, TV Week

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TAGS: alice, alice in wonderland, phantom, riverworld, tin man, unfinished business

26 Comments

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  1. Here’s the problem:

    They’re trying to expand the brand by taking the genre aspect out of it, or mask it so that the genre elements are not so readily apparent. Big mistake.

    This is the same mistake that AIP made when it was sold to Filmways back in the 80′s. Suddenly AIP, a profitable, solid genre film studio (AMITYVILLE HORROR) “expanded” by making films outside its original mandate and with larger budgets. Then, they weren’t so profitable anymore.

    Instead of becoming the number one source for all good genre films – AIP went to being a company that bankrupted itself by making “art” films and dramas.

    Let’s call it what it is – this “rebranding” is snobbery. It’s an attempt to become “respectable.”

    I’ve heard numerous stories how SciFi (I refuse to call it by that other name) hates the Scifi aspect of their channel. Instead of becoming the number one source of genre entertainment in their niche – they want “respectability.”

    I don’t know about you, but I respect anyone who can find their niche and exploit it in every way possible and maintain a profitable stature. Expanding into the web and phone platforms doesn’t mean you have to turn your back on(or turn your nose up at) your core audience.

  2. I agree with Bill above.
    Sci-Fi seems to be doing everything they can to push their core audience away (This Phantom revamp -UUUGGHHH!-is just the same action, but on a smaller scale).
    BTW: Improve on the programming FIRST and THEN you can do anything you want to the station name and logo.
    And I really DO believe what has been said before- Battlestar Galactica WAS a fluke.
    Cheers.

  3. I totally agree with you BILL. They’re hoping ot hang on to the core audience, but then ignore us and move on to other platforms.

    Companies do these kinds of changes all the time, then suffer for it.

    Again, the bottom line disses the core fan.

    GALE:

    Galactica was a fluke, but now we get to see how many shows turn dark.

    It’s shameful where this network could end up if they’re not careful. If you consider who used to be on the board of advisors for the Sci Fi Channel in its early days:

    Isaac Asimov, Gene Roddenberry

    It’s come a long way indeed.

    We can only hope that some things improve and some things stay the same.

  4. SciFi used to be my favorite channel. I barely recognize it anymore. It used to be on my favorites, but now I find myself watching it less and less. The only shows on there that I look forward to seeing now are Dr. Who and the new Stargate. Ghosthunters and wrestling? Please, I can watch SPIKE for that kind of cr@p. SciFi used to be great for science fiction, but now it’s just another generic cable channel.

  5. I tune into Sci-Fi for one reason, the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre. While I do enjoy Ghosthunters and it does sort of go with the whole genre(because many people think ghosts are fantasy/sci-fi too) the wrestling thing is a big turn off. If things head that direction too much farther I won’t support the channel nor it’s advertisers. I’m already tired of having Twilight Zone reruns every freaking 3 day holiday weekend, the BAD sci-fi movies are now being rerun on Chiller, why the heck do I need another channel of the same tired CRAP that I don’t watch on the ‘regular’ channels? How about some feature length Anime? What about some contests to make a Fan written Sci-fi/Fantasy novel into a film for the network, come on they can’t be any worse than some of the b-grade slop that ends up being shown on a Saturday night now….

  6. This station is really starting to get to me. Every time I turn to it, they’re showing sometype of ghost hunting stuff or wrestling. There are tons of sci-fi and fantasy movies that have never been touched by these guys; or the ones they do have that are good, they cancel. Hey Sci-Fi (or whatever they want to call themselves), how about showing actual science fiction on your channel and cancelling this ghost hunting crap!

  7. @Andy S
    I guess I should have read your post before I posted. You said about the same thing I did. :-)

  8. It plays out like this in my mind:

    I wanted to be a real TV network programmer but all I could afford was this lousy SF network. Hey, I’ll change the name, rebrand everything and get rid of all the stuff that makes us unique and turn it into my dream, that is to look like every other bleeping cable channel in existence.

    I HATE what this network has become. It is scary because it still has Eureka, which is actually quite nice, but it has backed out of virtually every possible unique attempt at quality programming that it has come across….Farscape, sorry too expensive (and then they sign up for Battlestar Galactica, wha?), Firefly, sorry not worth the fight. Then they halfass perfectly good stuff (Andromeda Strain, gawd what a debacle) and ignore the stuff that’s already out there to draw upon (Time Tunnel, the invaders, quark, quantum leap, twilight zone, outer limits, babylon 5, even mining MST3k for classic camp feature films)

    How can you have hope for a niche network when the people running the network don’t even embrace their own niche?

    There are loads of cool series concepts that should be available for develop, Zelazny’s Nine princes in amber series, azimov’s foundation, David Weber’s Honorverse, Drake and Pournelle’s mercenary series, Turtledove’s alternate history stories. Would love to see Brin’s Uplift series done right. Loads of old space opera to show. The genre isn’t second rate, the people picking the projects to develop are.

  9. NBC is to Sci Fi as SOE is to Star Wars Galaxies. Take your established fan base and totally rework what you’re offering in a vain attempt to attract others and end up failing so badly that you lose most of your initial fans and don’t gain many new fans. I guess at least we’re not paying a subscription for this though.

  10. Oh yeah, perhaps they’ll even have Jay Leno fill in with some shows on Sci Fi now too?

  11. @piratedan..

    How cool would it be to have Turtledove’s Worldwar series turned into a mini-series? That is some great alternative history with a sci-fi angle on it and would be PERFECT for a channel that is supposed to support science fiction. Also good would be Stephen Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant trilogies. I doubt any of those will ever happen, though.

  12. doesnt really matter much to me, all i ever watched on scifi was “doctor who” and when they HAD Godzilla marathons

  13. @John…

    Great minds do think alike, don’t they? :D

  14. AWw man, Matt, I miss those Godzilla marathons!!

    I hope some other enterprising broadcaster scoops up the name “The Sci-Fi Channel” and dedicates it to science fiction and fantasy and that the channel does great while “SyFy” flounders and goes into bankruptcy.

  15. Godzilla is ‘da bomb! I used to set my alarm clock as a kid to watch those 2 am movies!

  16. Death Knell- . A stroke or tolling of a bell, announcing a death; a knell{1}.

    2. Hence: (figuratively) A sign or harbinger of the end, death, or passing away of anything.
    [PJC] (from Answers.com)
    SyFy = The Sci-Fi channels’ Death Knell. With the obvious effort at being a more “respectable” company, I see them slowly bleeding to death. Me-n-you = the lifeblood of this channel. People will drift away, eventually leaving them dead where they lay. It may be interesting to see what -cuts- they make and how fast they bleed out. (Wow, sounds a lil more morbid than intended) Just my opinion though. :)

  17. the irony is as they move away from their core audience,
    This will lead to COMPETITION from another Science Fiction cable channel that tries to win the viewers That Scifi is discarding.
    It is inevitable.

  18. oh,and i would love it if a new channel came along and called itself The Science Fiction Channel.
    It would drive scifi CRAZY!

  19. My Polish friends say that not only does “syf” mean dirty, (“syfy” is the plural), but it means dirty in the way feces is dirty.

    How appropriate given their programming of the last few years.

  20. AlBme

    LOL… I kind of caught drift of that, but I couldn’t find any good references that I felt comfortable referencing…

    YOU, good reader, win today’s “knowing nod” of good comment. (Sorry, we don’t have any prizes, though you deserve one!)

    -Bruce

  21. @Andy S
    I don’t know if you want to think like me. I do have that Klingon guy within me.

    petaQ!!

    :-)

    Yep, AlBme gets the ditto prize for that comment. Sci-Fi or SyFy or Dirty Feces or whatever Channel needs to go the way of the dodo and have real sci-fi fans create a real science fiction network.

  22. @piratedan..

    Thank you, you saved me the trouble of writing all of that. I totally agree with everything you wrote above. Amber, Foundation, Honorverse, Drake and Pournelle, etc, etc, etc. Throw in Niven and Sheffield… heck, just raid the nearest B&N’s SciFi section. Almost any random book you pick up would be vastly superior to the drivel on “SyFy” today.

  23. Sadly, the “Sci Fi” channel went south years ago when they were bought and sold, how many times it now? They lost me many years back, I just hate this channel now and refuse to watch them. I did break down and watch the last season of BSG which was their only saving grace. Sorry Bruce, I know you like Star GAYte, but I think that show sucks. The dialog and story lines could’ve been penned by chimps. I remember when this network started out and how exciting it was for fans, I still have the poster that has listed REAL science fiction writers as their advisers. They used to put on some horror stuff but it wasn’t as much as they have now. I guess it’s good they’re changing their name. Althought I say why don’t they call it “Toilet Junk Channel?” It would be closer to the mark of what they broadcast now.

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