Monday, July 13, 2009

The "Syfy" Channel

So, this past week the Sci Fi Channel recently changed its name to the just atrociously misspelled name of "Syfy" Channel. The ostensible reason? Apparently there's this nagging feeling at NBC Universal (who owns the Sci Fi Channel) that the name "Sci Fi" is holding them back, because that term is associated with nerds in basements and such not. The alternate spelling of "Syfy" is supposed to be more appealing to women.

Well, ok, whatever. They sound the same and for most people that's going to evoke the same feeling. Won't affect my tendency to watch their channel: I have almost no idea what channel anything in particular is on because I have been a TiVo user now for almost ten years. I just tell my TiVo what to record and it finds it and records it whatever channel it's on. (Besides, I watch maybe three hours of TV a week these days.)

That said, I miss the old Sci Fi channel, in the days before the new Battlestar Galactica (which I detest). They used to have much more science-fictiony content, but lately've they've definitely moved much closer to the mainstream perception of "sci-fi", such as the new BG. Frankly "Lost" is more science-fictiony than BG. So while I do occasionally watch some of their content, it's not often, and I don't seek it out.

Still, the real reason they changed their name? Branding. You can't trademark "sci fi" as a universal mark; it's a common phrase and trademark protection in common phrases is always limited in scope. But "Syfy" isn't a common phrase or term, and so the trademark they can get for that is exclusive; this gives them a much more powerful trademark and much broader branding opportunities. (This is why so many products have deliberately misspelled names.) That, dear friends, is the real reason for the name change.