After nearly 17 years on the air, SCI FI Channel in the United States is changing its name. So what will the new moniker be? What word will help it stand out in the competitive cable market, as a channel that is about more than space ships and time travel? Is it something to do with “Imagination?” Or “Fantasy?” Or “Possibility?”
Nope. The channel is rebranding itself as: Syfy Channel.
The New York Times reports that the network will roll out its new name in its advertiser upfronts tomorrow, and officially make the switch on July 7.
Gone too is the Saturn logo. New is the tagline “Imagine Greater.”
The network’s genre-leading Web site, SciFi.com, will also make the switch.
The main reason for the change, according to Bonnie Hammer, former head of the network and now president of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment and Universal Cable Productions, and her successor David Howe, is that the name “SCI FI” was too limiting.
“If you ask people their default perceptions of Sci Fi, they list space, aliens and the future,” Howe said. “That didn’t capture the full landscape of fantasy entertainment: the paranormal, the supernatural, action and adventure, superheroes” — areas of programming that have becoming increasingly important as the network has found ratings success with shows like Ghost Hunters, ECW: Extreme Championship Wrestling, and Destination Truth.
But network chiefs hope that keeping the phonetically altered “Syfy” will also help them keep the fanboys and girls who are looking for traditional science fiction.
SCI FI had 95.2 million subscriber households and an estimated ad revenue of $423.9 million in 2008, according to media research company SNL Kagan, the Times said.
Science fiction news site SyFy Portal recently rebranded itself as Airlock Alpha, possibly a precursor to the network’s acquisition of the “Syfy” name. The change does allow the network to own the copyright on its own name — which it couldn’t do with a word as generic and widely used as “sci-fi.”
“We couldn’t own Sci Fi; it’s a genre,” Hammer said. “But we can own Syfy.”
“If I were texting, this is how I would spell it,” Howe said.
(Thanks to Mike and Morjana for the tip!)
NEXT: Read the network’s press release on Page 2