“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,” said TV historian Tim Brooks, who helped launch Sci Fi Channel when he worked at USA Network.And I'm sure that the association has nothing to do with the SciFi channel's prime-time wrestling, or the video game-based game shows, or their choice of advertising that focuses on hot women (my "favorite" being the one for Enterprise with the green Orion slave girls and sexy scheming mirror universe ensign Sato, which had pretty much nothing to do with the actual series).
And it ignores the many women who do watch SciFi. Like, you know, me. Or the many women fans of Battlestar Galactica and Stargate and Star Trek and Doctor Who. And you know where I read about the name change first? Yup, women bloggers. I suspect that I'm not the only woman out there who would watch SciFi more often if they added more quality programming. There are only so many times I can watch the same Star Trek episodes.
And what about those women who don't watch "SciFi" because they associate the term with dysfunctional boys? Are they going to see "SyFy" and think "ooh, shiny" and ignore that it's pronounced exactly the same way? Or, as Lisa Fary at Pink Ray Gun puts it:
OK. Dude. Don’t make chicks the culprit here. Are women who are not currently viewers really reporting that they’d watch the channel if it wasn’t called “SciFi”?And this rationalization is pretty funny:
“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,” Mr. Howe said. “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.”Now, I'm a bit older than that demographic range, so I'm out of touch, but I'm having trouble imagining 20-somethings texting each other about a TV channel. About a TV show, yes. A channel, not so much. Aren't the techno-savvy crowd twittering instead of texting these days anyway? Michael Hinman, founder of SyFy Portal (which was purchased a few weeks ago), must be amused that the name he came up with more than 10 years ago is apparently still so cutting-edge and hip.
And all the talk of branding ignores SciFi's real problem: changing the name means nothing if they don't change the programming. Will they add quality programming? Or will SyFy end up indistinguishable from Spike, with a schedule filled with endless CSI reruns, a bit of wrestling, and the monotony broken up with a bit of Star Wars and Star Trek, and something supernatural for the girly girls?
It would be nice if they remembered those of us who are interested in science fiction. Give me more of that and I'll watch. I'll even try to forget the insults.
Tags:science fiction, SyFy