The Syfy channel is rebooting with a new focus on science fiction fandom


Syfy turns 25 this year, and to commemorate the occasion, the cable channel will unveil a rebranding effort to take advantage of the growing popularity of science fiction and fantasy shows. Along with the new look, the channel announced today that it’s picking up two series: Krypton, a Superman prequel, and HAPPY!, a show about an ex-cop turned hit man whose life is changed by a perky, blue-winged talking horse. The network is also working on more traditional adaptations of classic SF novels such as Brave New World, Hyperion, and Stranger in a Strange Land, as well as the horror series The Purge, and a show based on George R.R. Martin’s 1980 novella Nightflyers. That story, previously adapted for film in 1987, follows a group of scientists who set out into space to locate an alien creature, until the ship’s computer complicates matters.

The rebranding will take effect on June 19th, and will include a new look and feel for the channel and its online presence. The network’s stated goal is to become the home for fans of all stripes, not only by producing new shows, but also as an online destination for commentary and news.

The reboot has been a long time coming. In 2009, the SCI FI Channel rebranded as “Syfy,” a change that was poorly received. Fans rolled their eyes and mocked the spelling, while Time magazine named it one of the 10 worst brand name changes. But the network’s larger changes weren’t as catastrophic: it produced new shows that boosted ratings and revenue.

Still, Syfy seemed to have missed the boat on the explosion of high-quality genre shows that began to sweep television. While it was airing shows like Warehouse 13, AMC and HBO were putting together ambitious projects like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. Syfy has begun to catch up with that wave, airing critically acclaimed series like The Expanse and The Magicians, and more traditional genre fare like Killjoys and Dark Matter. Chris McCumber, president of entertainment networks for NBCUniversal, explains that the earlier rebranding was an effort to capture a broad audience. He says the corporation now understands the need to do the opposite, by doubling down on Syfy’s roots. The end goal, he says, is to create a home “for fans to come in and celebrate the genre that they love.”

McCumber explained that the focus moving forward will be embracing the the fans and the shows they’re passionate about. The channel’s in-house news outlet, SyfyWire, is being given a more prominent emphasis within the brand, with new staff and editors coming on board. The site might also develop its own topical shows for the channel.

Syfy has an uphill battle against widely held perceptions of the channel, even as it’s been able to counter some of those complaints with shows like The Expanse. McCumber reiterated his goal to bring high-quality content to the network, and to build upon the success it’s seen in the last couple of years. One of the first steps: blocky new logos.


Image: Syfy




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