Mar 16, 2009

Co To Za Syfy? (Polish: What Is This Crap?)

I'm not fond of cherrypicking nor, as Jon Stewart so eloquently said the other day, turdmining anything. I don't want to snark or get bitter over anything. Everybody that knows me says I'm a pretty good guy. Most days, I'm happy, free to be me, and enjoy life. Other days, I'm a little ticked, and I unleash hell on those that I feel have made it a point to make my day miserable.

This is one of those days.

Recently-minted president of SciFi Channel, Dave Howe, just held an upfront earlier this morning. They celebrated the fact that the network had its best year ratingswise ever (they're in 13th place in ad-supported networks and in the top 10 with viewers 18-49 and 25-56, so Cartoon Network, stop whining, you're still doing well despite not having Nick and Disney-sized numbers). They spent time talking about their new series Warehouse 13 (essentially Eureka in South Dakota) and hinted about their new endeavor that will translated to a subscription-based MMORPG and a television series.

But nobody's talking about that.

What they're focused on is the new direction of the network. Or should I say the new name of SciFi, a brand that has been around for almost two decades and succeeded.

The name of the network, launching alongside the premiere of Warehouse 13, will become Syfy on July 7.

Yes, they've changed the name from SciFi to a homophone. Almost as bad as the concept of CN Real. Almost. Their lame reasoning for the renaming is as idiotic as the name itself. Take it away television historian Tim Brooks:

“The name Sci Fi has been associated with geeks and dysfunctional, antisocial boys in their basements with video games and stuff like that, as opposed to the general public and the female audience in particular ... We spent a lot of time in the ’90s trying to distance the network from science fiction, which is largely why it’s called Sci Fi ... It’s somewhat cooler and better than the name ‘Science Fiction.’ But even the name Sci Fi is limiting.”

And just like that, one of the architects of Sci-Fi Channel marginalized and stereotyped the viewers of science-fiction. Fans of SciFi, this is how the network views you. Continue Dave Howe-the-hell-did-you-get-this-job:

“When we tested this new name, the thing that we got back from our 18-to-34 techno-savvy crowd, which is quite a lot of our audience, is actually this is how you’d text it ... It made us feel much cooler, much more cutting-edge, much more hip, which was kind of bang-on what we wanted to achieve communication-wise"

As a member of the 18-34 techno-savvy crowd, I've never text Sci-Fi as Syfy. Ever. I don't know anybody who has ever referred to Sci-Fi as Syfy unless they were talking about the website Syfy Portal, which recently changed its name a few weeks ago. They're too lazy to type the letters "c" and "i," even though CBS doesn't have that problem at all. While it may make you feel cooler, cutting edge, and hipper, Mr. Howe, but it makes you, your network's parent company, and anyone who has or will associate with your network look moronic, out-of-step, oblivious to, ignorant of, and dismissive of their viewers, past and present, and anyone that enjoys the genre as a whole.

A genre, I may add, is the CORE REASON YOUR NETWORK EXISTS!

They may find the name SciFi limiting, but guess what? That's what you are. When the network began, it embraced science fiction in all its forms, including horror, paranormal activities, and tech-based shows which showed that science-fiction is eerily close to reality. But somehow, the network lost focus. I think it was the time Bonnie Hammer arrived. Now, Dave Howe is in charge, and he's proving to be more inept than his predecessor, even though they both thought long and hard about the name change not really.

Look, it's all about capitalizing on the SciFi brand, and they felt that SciFi was limiting and Syfy will sell useless pieces of plastic. Sci Fi couldn't air non-science-fiction shows without impunity and scorn from fans of sci-fi. SyFy can, and maybe that's the true reasoning behind the name change. Cartoon Network must be taking notes.

SyFy wants us to "Imagine Greater." The fact is I can imagine a greater SciFi, one not ravaged by cheesy C-Movies every weekend, not lacking in quality original programming and acquisitions, and not mired with daily barrages of marathons instead of a strong linear lineup and unashamed of being labeled a sci-fi channel. They want the "Imagine Greater" tagline to be "a call to action." Instead, the tagline and the idiotic name change has become "a call to action" to get rid of executives who believe SyFy is a suitable replacement for SciFi and marginalizes the audience that watches it as do-nothing slackers who are stuck in one position and will lap up anything they give us.

I hope Dave Howe fails. Then, maybe Cartoon Network learn a thing about shifting directions for short-term success.


E.A. said...

When the network brass says jump, Dave must say, "Howe high?"

Terrible pun, but I couldn't resist.

Mark Lungo said...

Stephen Colbert made fun of the name change on The Colbert Report last night.

Sean DL said...

When you want a brand, you have to do some stupid things to make sure you own it.

fter all, iPod was a stupid name for a music player, but look how no one even blinks about that.

NBC Universal wants to be able to OWN their brands, and Syfy is one of them, sadly.

So, here comes male/digital target channel number four, even if we don't really like it....

Sean DL said...

And Cartoon Network drives this point across this week with more live action then ever before....

Syfy was the lease of the issues with cable TV these days(As you pointed out before in your article on Xbridge)