|Launched||September 24, 1992|
|Owned by||NBCUniversal Cable
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)
|Headquarters||New York City, New York, United States|
|Formerly called||Sci-Fi Channel (1992–2000)
|Dish Network||122 (HD/SD)
|C-Band – H2H/4DTV||AMC 18 – Channel 211|
|SKY Centroamérica and México||209|
|DirecTV (Latin America)||221|
|Austar and Foxtel (Australia)||125 and 165|
|Available on many U.S. cable providers||Check local listings for channels|
|AT&T U-verse||1151 (HD)
|Verizon FiOS||680 (HD)
Syfy (formerly Sci-Fi Channel) is an American basic cable and satellite television channel that is owned by the NBCUniversal Cable division of NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast. The channel features science fiction, drama, supernatural, fantasy, reality, paranormal, wrestling, and horror programming.
As of August 2013, approximately 97,447,000 American households (85.33% of households with television) receive Syfy.
In 1989, Boca Raton, Florida, communications attorney Mitchell Rubenstein and his wife Laurie Silvers devised the concept for the Sci-Fi Channel, and planned to have it begin broadcasting in December 1990, but lacked the resources to launch it. In March 1992, the concept was picked up by USA Networks, then a joint venture between Paramount Pictures and Universal Studios. The channel was seen as a natural fit with classic film and television series that both studios had in their vaults, including Universal's Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Rod Serling TV series Night Gallery, and Paramount's Star Trek. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and author Isaac Asimov were among those on the advisory board; when the channel was launched, Rubenstein recalled, "[T]he first thing that was on the screen was 'Dedicated to the memories of Isaac Asimov and Gene Roddenberry,' members of the Channel's Board of Advisors. Leonard Nimoy was master of ceremonies at the channel's launch party, held at the Hayden Planetarium in Manhattan; Asimov's widow Janet and Roddenberry's widow, Majel Barrett, were in attendance. The first program shown on the network was the film Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
In 1994, Paramount was sold to Viacom, followed by Seagram's purchase of a controlling stake in MCA (of which Universal was a subsidiary) from Matsushita the next year. In 1997, Viacom sold its stake in USA Networks to Universal, who spun off all its television assets to Barry Diller the next year. Three years later, Diller would sell these assets back to Universal, by then a subsidiary of Vivendi SA (at the time known as Vivendi Universal). Vivendi's film and television production, and cable television assets were then merged with General Electric's NBC to form NBC Universal in 2004.
For most of its history, the network's logos mostly consisted of a planet with a ring. The first depicted a ringed planet with the words "SCI-FI CHANNEL" embedded. The second, introduced in March 1999, retained the Saturn-like planet but dropped the hyphen and "Channel" from the name. The third, designed by Lambie-Nairn, debuted on December 2, 2002, with the launch of the Steven Spielberg miniseries Taken. The network also launched a new image campaign with the tagline "If," which expresses the limitless possibilities of the imagination. Identification bumps depicted surreal situations (such as a baby breathing fire; or a woman in a stately sitting room kissing a bug-eyed, big eared animal).
On March 16, 2009, Sci-Fi announced it was changing its name to "Syfy," to end confusion over how to capitalize and stylize its name and as part of an ongoing rebranding effort. Network officials also noted that, unlike the generic term "sci fi", which represents the entire science fiction genre, the term "Syfy" can be protected by trademark and therefore would be easier to market on other goods or services without fear of confusion with other companies' products. The only significant previous use of the term "Syfy" in relation to science fiction was by the website SyFy Portal, which became Airlock Alpha after selling the brand to NBC Universal (represented by a shell company) in February 2009 for $250,000.
Reaction to the new name was largely negative at first, with people often pronouncing Syfy as "Siffy", "Skiffy", or "Si Fi" to make fun of the name change. The parody news anchor Stephen Colbert made fun of the name change on The Colbert Report by giving the channel a "Tip of the Hat" for "spelling the name the way it's pronounced" and noting that "the tide is turning in my long fought battle against the insidious 'soft C'". The new name took effect on July 7, 2009. Syfy has since added reality shows and edged further from strictly science fiction, fantasy and horror programming.
The rebranding efforts at NBC Universal's Sci Fi Channels worldwide resulted in most rebranding as "Syfy" or "Syfy Universal", however, over one-third of the channels did not take on "Syfy" as any part of their names: Australia rebranded the Sci Fi Channel as SF Channel, channels in Japan and the Philippines rebranded to or were replaced by Universal Channel, while each of the channels in Poland, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia would become Sci Fi Universal. "Syfy", in several languages, does not suggest imagination or science fiction so much as the syphilitic.
Syfy's programming includes original made-for-cable movies, miniseries, and series. In the past, the channel concentrated on classic science fiction shows. However under NBCUniversal ownership, the channel has altered its schedule in the past few years to expand its lineup of programs, and Syfy now airs shows including WWE's SmackDown, changing from the original niche programming to offerings more towards general-entertainment in nature.
The network had gained significant international attention for its very successful original miniseries and subsequent four-season series Battlestar Galactica. In addition to many awards, the United Nations invited the main cast to a retrospective and discussion.
Coupled with Battlestar Galactica, Syfy gained national prominence in 2003 with the airing of Steven Spielberg Presents: Taken, which won the Emmy Award that year for best miniseries. In 2006, it also began including several non-science-fiction programs in its lineup, such as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, ECW (changed to WWE NXT in 2010) and WCG Ultimate Gamer.
Syfy has aired anime programming off and on throughout its history. It first began airing English dubbed anime films and original video animations in the early 1990s, although the programs were often edited in order to fit the market pressures typically placed on basic cable. It was the first to show the Streamline Pictures English dubs of the films Robot Carnival, Lensman and Akira, as well as airing Central Park Media's Dominion: Tank Police, Gall Force and Project A-ko. Eventually the channel stopped airing anime, until June 11, 2007, when it began airing a weekly two-hour programming block called "Ani-Monday". Intended to directly compete with Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, the block features English dubs of various anime series licensed by Manga Entertainment. During February 2008, the channel also aired anime on Tuesday nights in a second programming block. In July 2009, Syfy announced that they had renewed and expanded their licensing agreement with Manga Entertainment to continue the "Ani-Monday" block, as well as to add a similar two-hour block of horror anime, also called "Ani-Monday", to its sister channel Chiller. Syfy's anime block was moved to Thursday nights starting March 14, 2011 where is remained until all anime programming was abruptly removed from the schedule on June 9, 2011.
On April 13, 2010, World Wrestling Entertainment announced it had signed a multi-year agreement that would move WWE SmackDown from MyNetworkTV to Syfy, starting on October 1, 2010. The WWE said the show would assist Syfy with targeting of young male and female audiences.
Syfy original films
Spearheaded and originally launched by Thomas Vitale in 2001, and managed by Vitale, Chris Regina, Ray Cannella, with the later additions of Karen O'Hara and Macy Lao, Sci Fi Pictures original films are typically independently-made B-movies with production budgets of $1 million to $2 million each. These films usually premiere on Saturday nights. They are also one of the sponsors for the Coalition for Freedom of Information. The movies have become one of the longest-lasting vestiges of Syfy's schedule. One of the most memorable campaigns for the movies presented these films as part of "The Most Dangerous Night of Television" (Saturdays). Over the years, Syfy's promotion of the movies leans into the escapist fun promised by them, with titles such as Sharktopus, Mansquito, Two-Headed Shark Attack, Ogre, Ice Twisters, Star Runners and Sharknado. Since 2001, Syfy has worked with a number of different production companies (most of them independent) to make over 200 original movies of this type.
The channel's website launched in 1995 under the name "The Dominion" at SciFi.com. It dropped the "The Dominion" name in 2000. It was one of the first large-scale, publicly available, well-advertised, and non-portal based websites. In addition to information on the channel's programming, it covers science fiction in general. The site has won a Webby Award and a Flash Forward Award. From 2000 to 2005, it published original science fiction short stories in a section called "Sci Fiction", edited by Ellen Datlow, who won a 2005 Hugo Award for her work there. The stories themselves won a World Fantasy Award; the first Theodore Sturgeon Award for online fiction (for Lucius Shepard's novella "Over Yonder"), and four of the Science Fiction Writers of America's Nebula Awards, including the first for original online fiction (for Linda Nagata's novella "Goddesses").
On April 22, 2006, the site launched Sci Fi Pedia as a commercial wiki on topics including anime, comics, science fiction, fantasy, horror, fandom, games and toys, UFOs, genre-related art and audio, and the paranormal. In 2009, Sci Fi Pedia was shut down without explanation.
As part of the channel's rebranding in 2009, the URL was changed to Syfy.com. As of 2010, Syfy.com began to contain webisode series including Riese: Kingdom Falling (as of October 26, 2010), The Mercury Men (as of July 25, 2011, and Nuclear Family (as of October 15, 2012).
Science Fiction Weekly
Science Fiction Weekly was an online magazine started and edited by Craig Engler and Brooks Peck on August 15, 1995. In April 1996, it began appearing exclusively on "The Dominion" as part of a partnership with the site, before being sold to the Sci Fi Channel completely in 1999. The publication covered various aspects of science fiction, including news, reviews, original art, and interviews, until it merged with Sci Fi Wire in January 2009. It was last edited by Scott Edelman.
Sci Fi Magazine
Blastr (formerly Sci Fi Wire), an adjunct of the Syfy website, is the daily news wire edited by Scott Edelman. It covers news related to science fiction, fantasy and supernatural-themed entertainment, including films, television, games, books, fandom and rumors. Blastr is frequently cited as a source of breaking news by other websites and by publications as varied as the New York Post and TV Guide.
In 2008, Syfy, then the Sci Fi Channel, averaged a 1.0 household rating; 242,000 viewers among Adults 18–34 (up 4% vs 2007); 616,000 viewers among Adults 18–49 (up 5% vs 2007); 695,000 viewers among Adults 25–54 (up 6% vs 2007) and 1,278,000 total viewers (up 7% vs 2007). It saw two years of consecutive growth among female audiences, with a 12% increase among women 25–54, a 14% jump in women 18–49 and 6% in women 18–34. The channel also was ranked among the top ten watched channels for male viewers ages 18–54, and women ages 25–54 (#10).
For 2010, Syfy averaged 1.199 million viewers, down 6% from 2009. In Adults 18–49 the channel averaged .539 million viewers, down 11% from 2009. For 2010 Syfy did not hold any of the Top 20 Primetime Original Series.
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- Official website
- Syfy on Facebook
- Syfy on Google+
- Syfy on Twitter
- Syfy's channel on YouTube
- Syfy at the Internet Movie Database
- Sci Fi charts its course for the future, Los Angeles Times – Interview with Dave Howe