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 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 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.


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!


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,, Wiktionary, TV Week

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