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Years ago, when I had a development deal at Sci-Fi Channel, I was told that the upper echelons of the company weren’t really happy with the name "Sci-Fi Channel" and had long been looking for a replacement. An associate snarkily commented that maybe Bonnie Hammer would be happier with an Oprah-like branding. One of the Sci-Fi staffers shook their head sadly and said, "I was in that meeting, actually."

And then:


In some universe, the name “Syfy” is less geeky than the name “Sci Fi.” Dave Howe, president of the Sci Fi Channel, is betting it’s this one. To that end, the 16-year-old network—owned by NBC Universal—plans to announce that Syfy is its new name March 16 at its upfront presentation to advertisers in New York.

I never liked the term "sci-fi" in the first place, so it’s all the same to me. And it’s actually a smart marketing move. While the name can be spun as making less sense/saying less, that actually matters less in television (I live in a country with a tv channel called Dave) than having a unique name that can be applied to objects. "Sci-fi" is a generic term that has been used in branding for decades, after all.

Apparently there was a longrunning website called Syfy Portal, but their old URL now directs to… this:

Don’t worry, you’re in the right place. We just had to evacuate SyFy Portal when it destabilized due to some… tachyon… quantum… spacial… something or other.

It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out for Sci-Fi/Syfy. I like that a speculative-fiction/weirdshit tv channel even exists, so obviously I hope it works out well for them. Equally obviously, there’s some nerdstorm backlash on the way…

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  1. M M

    Actually, “Syfy” is a crude word for “pimples” or “dirt” in Polish.

  2. In Polish “syfy” means scum/filth (plural, “syf” singular). Srsly.

  3. Illogic Illogic

    I can only imagine the countless disappointed Pollacks getting SyFy for dirty porn and instead being greeted with “Gamma Sharks vs. Astroid Alligators the Movie”.

  4. I’d like to clarify that, at least from what I’ve been seeing, the backlash isn’t so much from the name change itself, but rather from some of the things said in this article:

    They essentially insult their core audience and express a desire to distance themselves from “geeks.” It’s pretty incredible that anyone would think it’s good PR to say some of the things they say in there.

    Further thoughts are posted on my blog: (not spam, I swear!)

    — Jason

  5. Well, considering they are big on Ghost Hunters, Ghost Hunter’s International, Unexplained with George Noory, and Destination Truth, getting the Science out of their SyFy channel seems appropriate.

    And maybe they can cancel even more of their awesome shows and replace them with different versions of Ghost Hunters and Other Hack Shows that contribute to the overall belief in the supernatural, Elvis, and Alien probing our rectums.

    I hate them so hard. I’ve hated them since they canceled Farscape. Their marketing people need to be taken outside and locked in a room with George Noory for a week. I was going to pick something worse, but I couldn’t think of anything.

  6. “Dave”.


    Oh, yes, Sci-Fi\Syfy. Sify is catchy and indeed wins for not being generic — although “Sci-Fi Channel” is quicker in letting viewers know what the channel is all about in the first place.

    I wouldn’t mind either way.

    “Dave”. Wow.

  7. This is the channel that replaced Farscape with Scare Tactics. This is the channel that plays their commercials 4x louder then their programs. This is the channel that purchases TV pilots from other networks and then presents them as “Sci-Fi Channel Original Movies.” And, this is the channel that buys cheesy CGI-Monster Movie’s (all, apparently, made in Eastern Europe) in bulk.

    If they’re having an image problem with their advertisers, it’s probably not due to the spelling of “Sci-Fi” in their name.

  8. Karina Wright Karina Wright

    I would actually have far less scorn for the move were they to show the imagination and humor of naming their channel Dave.

    I am a 52 year old second generation science fiction fan and never in my wildest dreams did I think that a channel nominally devoted to science fiction could be so generally bad and then manage to get worse.

  9. Yes, I understand that the generic title “Sci-Fi” is not great marketing.
    But does keeping the name and mis-spelling it make for better marketing. I don’t think so.
    Couldn’t people who work at a science fiction network come up with something NEW, even a bit futuristic or taken from pop culture?
    How about:
    Channel Zero
    30th Century Box
    or something out of a classic sci-fi story or film like HAL
    or instead of Dave how about BOB

    How about anything that isn’t the same old crap rehashed and looks like slang for Syphilis? SyFy? really?

    As for distancing themselves from Sci-Fi geeks – we are their core viewing audience who has nothing to do on a Friday night – do they really want to alienate us?

    How about instead of changing the image you stick to formulas that work:
    like actors that can act and writers that can write?
    Half of their new programs have the worst acting ever and are unwatchable.
    And anything decent has the shortest seasons ever. Waiting nine months for the next episode is how to lose an audience. I might accidentally find a life in that amount of time.

    And can someone explain to me why I can’t buy or watch seasons or Farscape…

    How about that pilot for Global Frequency? We’ve all seen it, why don’t they throw money at acquiring that and not screwing it up. Instead every bad CGI reptile movie ever made…

    BOB -name it BOB.
    Not the Bob Channel, just BOB.

  10. Mike N Mike N

    Syfy? It’s obvious they don’t realize they’re going to be called the Syphilis Channel from here on out. And with the Polish angle it becomes a joke in two languages.

  11. McE McE

    Well, I just hope they keep ECW…

  12. Rob H. Rob H.

    It’s not a speculative-fiction/weirdshit channel so much as it is a pro-wrestling, prank show and rejected pilot channel. At this point, I think the Cartoon Network with its late-night Adult Swim lineup is a better example of “speculative-fiction/weirdshit”.

  13. The only thing that worries me about this is if, in the light of their new freedom from that very specific geeky genre/demographic, the network decides to downplay all that cumbersome genre programming for something more broadly appealing and generic.

  14. This is the channel that has never hesitated to lie, Lie, Bald-faced-whopper LIE just to get publicity.
    Remember the M Night Shamalan bullshit?

  15. street'n'smith street'n'smith

    they shoulda gone with ‘weirdshit tv channel’

  16. Doesn’t syfy sounds like syphillis in a twisted universe? Hey I got SyFy don’t f*ck me!


    what a fucking waste of time. i wonder how much they paid the mental midget that came up with the logo.

  18. Syfy will certainly steer away from science fiction shows.

    Remember when G4 actually showed video game shows besides X-Play? Or when TechTV was around and showed computers and gadgets and such? Well, when they merged all they did was get rid of most of their original programming and started showing Jamie Kennedy Experiment and Cops. Meh.

  19. Sporkfire Sporkfire

    I hear they had something to do with Firefly being
    Canceled. Muhahaha.

  20. Paramorefan09 Paramorefan09

    Are you serious? This is so stupid!
    First of all, I’m sorry, but Syfy is one of the most idiotic things I’ve heard. I seriously wished there was another channel that was like SciFi, but didn’t put on crap shows like ECW, Ghost Hunters, and Scare Tactics

  21. How does Howe have a job?

    HJs direct to investors or something? I mean… seriously…

  22. I think the name change and marketing stuff is just an end run around the real problem, which is that they don’t really have enough good content.

  23. David David

    Hey! Why did SciFi change its name to SyFy – because insanity is one side-effect of syphilis.

    They claim that they tested the name, maybe they should have tested for gonorrhea.

    Should we call the CDC, because obviously there’s an outbreak at their headquarters?

    Maybe we should protest the name change by sending them syringes?

  24. I have seen this story on several sites and what comes to my mind is that NBCU missed the golden opportunity with this channel. They are disappointed that the channel name may stop some folks from viewing the channel, the TRUTH is they used the name to get honest Science Fiction fans to look at this channel as their channel, but over the years the programming has become a different genre than the channel’s viewers want to watch. The folks at NBCU dislike Science Fiction and have just refused to air programs within the genre. They seem to love critter monster “B” movies and now wrestling. The problem with wrestling is the fans of WWE will not watch ECW so the program limits the viewer base for the channel and especially turns off women. Now they decide to dissociate the channel from Science Fiction fans and release stories calling them GEEKS that live in basements and are antisocial creatures of some kind.

    If NBCU had actually made this channel for Science Fiction programing and had gone after every Science Fiction movie and series as they became available for cable, and had shown all the old classic Science Fiction shows with new series being really promoted and continued year after year they could have dominated the genre and they could have developed a following of the 10 percent of the viewing public or about 35 million folks that are fans of Science Fiction. Their ratings would have continued to grow and likely could have been within the top five cable channels in the country. But they did Science Fiction in NAME only and now even the name change SPELLS the end of the channel. I have several DVRS and I will just search for Science Fiction programs and NEVER CONCERN myself with going to this channel except when a program shows up within the search. Good Bye NBCU.

  25. atwood atwood

    WOW DAVE…This is truly fascinating…I thought i was the only one who thought the sci-fi channel should/would/could show science-fiction type of shows. anybody been to the movies lately?seen any sci-fi blockbusters/box-office record setting movies lately? go figure

  26. Patricia Patricia

    “Hey wouldn’t it be sooo kool to write SYFy instead of sci-fi”… “Yeah, ummmm, let’s do it!”
    I HATE HATE HATE the new logo!! It’s ridiculous….”

  27. SubTronic SubTronic

    I’m sorry, but i think the new name is stupid. The programs could be a lot better. I agree with A Scifi Fan. This is an example of poor management and no vision. Maybe TNT is a better choice. Think about it.

  28. Christine Christine

    Hi, I would just like to say I think it would be great if the SyFy Channel picked up the Heros Series that NBC decided to dump. This series is an awesome series and with a bit of tweeking of the airing times and length of time between Season airings I blieve the original fan base will be back for a Season 5,6 and possibly thru to a Season 10. It is a shame that NBC could not pull of good ratings for this incredibly well crafted TV Series. I do belileve that you could do a much better job getting the fans back.

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