The Sci Fi Channel has set a July 7 blast-off date for a new name — SyFy — citing a need to refresh the brand while securing an identity that's more ownable and less limiting.
The sleeker moniker (chosen from some 300 candidates) will be introduced Monday at the cabler's upfront presentation to advertisers, in tandem with a new slogan: "Imagine Greater."
One big reason behind the switch is that SyFy can be trademarked. "We couldn't own Sci Fi; it's a genre," Bonnie Hammer, president of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment, tells the New York Times. "But we can own Syfy."
Sci Fi Channel president Dave Howe points out that the current name is also limiting. "If you ask people their default perceptions of Sci Fi, they list space, aliens and the future. That didn't capture the full landscape of fantasy entertainment: the paranormal, the supernatural, action and adventure, superheroes."
Helping pave the way for the name change was a secretive deal betwen NBCU and Michael Hinman, the creator of SyFyPortal.com (which last month mysteriously redubbed itself AirlockAlpha.com).
Reflecting on the sale of the SyFy name, Hinman tells Portfolio, "We actually suspected [the buyer, known throughout talks as "New Fizz Corp."] was NBCU ... because the lawyer they used in New York ... has represented intellectual property issues with NBCU in the past." Hinman won't say how much he got for the SyFy name, but says it "was far more substantial than anyone who was simply looking to get into the science-fiction news business would pay .... So we knew it was someone extremely well capitalized."
SyFy's July 7 launch date coincides with premiere of Warehouse 13, a new series about a secret government facility in South Dakota.
Tweaking the Sci Fi name is part of a rebranding campaign to distinguish the home of Battlestar Galactica, Ghost Hunters and Eureka from its cable competitors.
Sci Fi Channel had 95.2 million subscriber households last year, compared with 93 million in 2007 and 88.2 million in 2006.