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SyFy Channel President Attempts To Excuse Name Change

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syfySyFy Channel president David Howe talked to the folks over at our sister site Cinema Blend today about their newly announced name change. Dead and gone is the Sci Fi Channel, replaced by the more idiot friendly SyFy.

Howe right off the bat, compares the naming of his TV channel to choosing a name for drugs. No really. He says:

If you look at brands that launch now, on the whole, new brands have to have a name which is completely made up so it will be a word that you’ve never seen before. You see this particularly with drugs. You look a name like Celebrex, Viagra or Cialis. Any of these drugs. You have to invent a word that doesn’t exist.


It seems a big part of their motivation in changing the name was to ditch the Saturn logo. Look it’s no secret, they want out of the science fiction business. They want even more reason to run the horrible wrestling programs and reality shows they’re already skewing towards and ditching the Sci Fi trappings only makes it easier. Howe says:

Part of the exercise that we went through is we wanted, obviously, to let go of the Saturn logo but actually to do that, we needed to have a letter form which in it of itself from a design perspective was unique and brandable and trademark-able.

Then he engages in a lot of double talk. See if you can make sense of it:

The thing that disturbed me most about some of the comments, but if I’m honest, didn’t really surprise me is that this is not about abandoning our past. This is not about alienating our existing core viewers because frankly we are still the scifi-fantasy channel and will continue to be so. This is absolutely about embracing our heritage and embracing our future and figuring out how we can bring even more people into the camp. The thing that I think disturbs us most was people, as we expected, saying ‘Well this is just another opportunity to put more ECW on the air.’ Or, ‘This is another opportunity to do even more reality.’ That isn’t true and recent announcements, we’ve picked up Caprica, it’ll launch in the new year. We’ve picked up Stargage Universe, the next exciting chapter of the longest running space opera in TV history. This isn’t about retrenching, this is about absolutely embracing the totality of not just our core audience but actually, a new audience in the future.

Howe seems to think that if he explains why they don’t want to be a science fiction channel anymore then we’ll be ok with it. What he doesn’t seem to get is that the reason everyone’s upset with this is that the channel doesn’t want to be a science fiction channel anymore. Spin it any way you want, but that’s the bottom line here. Science fiction needs someplace it’ll always have a home, and now it’ll only have a home on the SyFy Channel if they can fit it in between all the other junk they plan on loading their programming up with.

But I’ve said before, this channel hasn’t really been a science fiction channel in a long time anyway. They long ago sold Sci Fi out, and for every great piece of science fiction programming like BSG they run some crummy wrestling event in a time slot which could have been devoted to science fiction. This new name doesn’t signal a change in the way they’re doing business, it’s just a reflection of the way they’re already doing it. The Sci Fi Channel died a long time ago.

Read more from David Howe on the SyFy name change over at CB right here.

Comments

  1. Kenn says:

    I think the biggest thing that shocks me is that the network keeps letting Howe talk. It seems that every time he does an interview, it simply gets worse. He doesn’t have any of the subtlety he *thinks* he’s displaying. Everything the man says come off screaming “corporate tool.”

    Does he really think that fans of the genre are that uneducated or cloistered to not see through it, or is he really convinced (in a sad sad way) of the veracity of what he’s saying?

    Or… in a third scenario… is someone letting him talk about all his great plans to change the channel from it’s original format ad nausium, allowing him more and more opportunity to “throw himself under the bus” and possibly his reformatting ideas with him? After all, the more hate generate could all go into a file with dropping ratings as support for a conversation going something like this:

    “Gentleman… although Mr Howe’s new programing individual has higher ratings than other shows, overall there’s been a significant drop in OVERALL viewership. Maybe we were a bit too hasty about support Howe’s reformatting of the channel. Perhaps what the “Sci-Fi” channel needs is a return to the roots it was founded on… and perhaps a “fresh perspective” heading it up?”

    Could it be that we… as fans.. may have an ally somewhere in the executive boardroom?

    It’s a comforting thought, true or not.

    • JT says:

      I don’t think Howe or the channel has ever really understood Science Fiction fans. I mean every hardcore SF fan has always known that it’s only a science fiction channel in name. At best only 50% of their programming was ever devoted to science fiction anyway.

  2. George says:

    It's very obvious that they want to change the programming away from Science Fiction. It's owned by NBC that can't get any of their act together. They (NBC) have a couple of good shows on Sci Fi and USA and I wouldn't doubt that their cable ratings are higher then there network. They're starting to play the shows from one of their canle stations to another. They've already brought wresting and Anime to the Sci Fi channel and you'll be seeing Monk within two years. What's funny is that these cable stations were a threat to the networks in the past so they bought them. Now NBC's just messing them up just like their network. It's sad because the Sci Fi Channel had a big following. Personally I'm Boycotting the channel except for one show. No SyFy for me.

  3. George says:

    It's very obvious that they want to change the programming away from Science Fiction. It's owned by NBC that can't get any of their act together. They (NBC) have a couple of good shows on Sci Fi and USA and I wouldn't doubt that their cable ratings are higher then there network. They're starting to play the shows from one of their canle stations to another. They've already brought wresting and Anime to the Sci Fi channel and you'll be seeing Monk within two years. What's funny is that these cable stations were a threat to the networks in the past so they bought them. Now NBC's just messing them up just like their network. It's sad because the Sci Fi Channel had a big following. Personally I'm Boycotting the channel except for one show. No SyFy for me.