Syfy (formerly Sci-Fi Channel and Sci Fi) is an American basic cable and satellite television channel that is owned by the NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group division of NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast. The channel features science fiction, fantasy, horror, supernatural, paranormal, drama, and reality programming.
As of February 2015, approximately 94.8 million American households (81.4 percent 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 films and television series that both studios had in their vaults, including Universal's Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Rod Serling TV series Night Gallery, along with Paramount's Star Trek. Star Trek's creator Gene Roddenberry and author Isaac Asimov were among those on the initial advisory board, but both had died by the time the channel finally launched on September 24, 1992. Rubenstein recalled: "The first thing that was on the screen was 'Dedicated to the memories of Isaac Asimov and Gene Roddenberry'." 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 both in attendance. The first program shown on the network was the film Star Wars.
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 (a.k.a Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. (松下電器産業株式会社 Matsushita Denki Sangyō Kabushiki-gaisha) 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.
A high definition version of the channel launched on October 3, 2007 on DirecTV. In 2013, Syfy was awarded the James Randi Educational Foundation's Pigasus Award.
From 1992 to 1999, the network's first logo consisted of a planet with a ring, which made to look like Saturn, and it has "SCI-FI CHANNEL" written on it. The network's second logo ran from 1999 to 2002, which dropped the hyphen and the word "CHANNEL" from the name. The network's third and final logo ran from 2002 to 2009, and was designed by Lambie-Nairn. The logo made its debut 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, as well as a woman in a stately sitting room kissing a bug-eyed, big-eared animal.
On March 16, 2009, NBCUniversal announced that Sci Fi was rebranding as "Syfy". Network officials also noted that, unlike the generic term "sci fi", which represents the entire genre, the term "Syfy" as a sensational spelling 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.
The name change was greeted with initial negativity, with people deliberately mispronouncing "Syfy" as SIF-ee or SEE-fee 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: 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. In Australia, the Sci Fi channel was a joint venture not solely owned by NBC Universal; the channel was uniquely rebranded as "SF" until its closure, and was replaced by a NBC Universal solely-owned version of Syfy, branded as such, matching the standard international "Syfy" branding. In Polish, "Syfy" does not suggest imagination or science fiction, but rather syphilis.
New Syfy logo, to take effect on June 19, 2017.
On May 11, 2017, Syfy unveiled a new logo that it will adopt on June 19 in honor of the channel's 25th anniversary. The new branding will aim to re-position the channel back towards targeting fans of the fantasy and science fiction genres; network head Chris McCumber explained that the new logo was meant be a "badge" that could be used across its array of programming. Syfy also planned to place a larger focus on its genre news division Syfy Wire, disclosing the possibility of extending the website to television as well.
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 programming to target more mainstream audiences. In 2006, it began airing programs such as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, ECW, and WCG Ultimate Gamer.
The network had gained significant international attention for its 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. Also prominent was the network's airing of Taken, which won the Emmy Award that year for best miniseries.
Syfy was also known for airing Japanese anime. 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. After a break in airings, anime programming returned on June 11, 2007, with a weekly two-hour programming block called "Ani-Monday". Intended to directly compete with Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, the block featured 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 "Ani-Mondays", 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 later moved to Thursday nights, starting March 14, 2011, where it remained until all anime programming was abruptly removed from the schedule on June 9, 2011
In addition to the aforementioned ECW, Syfy has aired other shows from WWE, including NXT in 2010, and SmackDown from 2010 until 2015, when the show moved to Syfy's sister channel USA Network in early 2016.
- America's Smartest Kids: Reality television competition challenging children to "invent a better future".
- Change the Day You Die: Reality television series following a group of individuals as they are shown how their bad habits will cause their deaths in the future, and the journey they must go through to change those bad habits.
- Dinner With Deepak: Reality television series following Deepak Chopra as he dines each week with three high-profile dinner guests.
- Hi Tech Hoaxes: Reality television series about a group of hoaxers and pranksters who each week perform hoaxes on unsuspecting people, based on requests from viewers.
- In the Dark: The adventures of an amateur ghost-hunting team that continually finds its efforts frustrated by their own incompetence.
- Me and Lee: A down-on-his-luck 20-year-old goes into the hospital for back surgery, meets Lee Majors, and is convinced to become a bionic man.
- Monster Man: Reality television series following Cleve Hall and his family business of making monster and alien props for Hollywood.
- Overthunk: Reality television competition in which two teams design, build, and set off "massive chain-reaction machines".
- Stunts Unlimited: Reality television series going behind the scenes of creating big stunts for Hollywood.
- Three Inches: After being struck by lightning, Walter Spackman discovers he has developed a super power: the ability to move an object with his mind, but only over a distance of three inches.
- Tyler Shields: Reality television series about unconventional photographer Tyler Shields.
- Alphas: A science-fiction series that follows a group of people with superhuman abilities, known as "Alphas", as they work to prevent crimes committed by other Alphas.
- Rewind: A science-fiction series revolving around a team who must travel back in time to prevent a devastating terrorist attack. Executive produced by Justin Marks, Tom Spezialy, Gail Berman, Lloyd Braun, and Gene Stein.
- Defender: Executive produced by Robert Hewitt Wolfe, a science-fiction series set around the Starship Defender.
- The Adjustment Bureau (television series): written by Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer. Executive produced by George Nolfi, Slavkin and Swimmer.
- High Moon: Based on the novel The Lotus Caves by John Christopher, the series revolves around a world where the countries of Earth have established colonies to mine the Moon's resources. When a new life form is discovered, chaos erupts as various factions race to uncover its powerful secrets. Executive produced by Bryan Fuller and co-executive produced by Jim Danger Gray.
- An untitled series that revolves around the DC Comics superhero Booster Gold. Executive produced by Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg and DC Entertainment.
- Grave Sight: Based on the novel Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris.
- Seeing Things: Based on the comic "Grey Legion" by Platinum Studios, the series revolves around a cop who after meeting his violent demise, returns as a ghost to close his last case. But the only person who can help him is a socially awkward man who is realizing for the first time that his hallucinations may not be all in his head. Written by David Slack and Gabrielle Stanton. Executive produced by Slack, Robert Cort and Scott Mitchell Rosenberg. A production of Fox Television Studios.
- The Family: A science-fiction series revolving around an alien family living amongst humans. Written by Dan Harris. Executive produced by Neal Moritz and Mark Verheiden.
- Eyes of the Dragon: Based on the novel The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King. Written by Michael Taylor and Jeff Vintar. Executive produced by Michael Taylor and Bill Haber.
- Darkfall: A fantasy series revolving around a version of Earth where Magic takes the place of modern technology. Written by Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris. A production of The Jim Henson Company and Universal Cable Productions.
- One Mile Straight Down: Revolves around billionaire adventurer James Exeter who works with the government to take an advanced nuclear submarine to explore a vast ocean under a large chasm that was revealed after a powerful earthquake hits California. Written and executive produced by Skip Woods, Naren Shankar and Deran Sarafian.
- Heroes of Cosplay: A reality television show co-produced by 51 Minds Entertainment, The show follows nine Cast members as they compete in masqurades at various conventions around the U.S. The cast members are Yaya Han, Riki Lecotey, Monika Lee, Victoria Schmidt, Becky Young, Holly Conrad, Jessica Merizan, Jesse Lagers, and Chloe Dykstra.
- Defiance: A show taking place in the future (after 2030) on a radically transformed Earth containing new species, some having arrived from space, many others the result of contamination by Votan (alien) terraforming technology, which has transformed native flora and fauna in unforeseen ways. As the series opens, Joshua Nolan (Grant Bowler) works as the local sheriff, or Lawkeeper, for the town of Defiance (St. Louis before the terraforming events), a community where humans and intelligent extraterrestrial species coexist. The show follows Nolan, his adopted alien daughter Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas), and the town's new mayor, Amanda Rosewater (Julie Benz).
- Dominion: An apocalyptic action series based on the 2010 film Legion.
- Helix: The series followed a team of scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who traveled to a research facility in the Arctic to investigate a potential outbreak of disease.
- Z Nation: Three years into a virus-caused zombie apocalypse, which has already killed most humans. A group must transport Murphy, the only known survivor of a zombie bite who did not himself turn into a zombie, from New York to the world's last known functioning research lab in California. Murphy had been the unwilling subject of a government test vaccine in the days just before society fell apart, and his blood contains antibodies that are mankind's last and best hope for a vaccine. However, Murphy harbors a dark secret that threatens them all.
- 12 Monkeys: Time traveler James Cole (Aaron Stanford) travels from the year 2043 to the present day to stop the release of a deadly virus by the enigmatic organization known as "The Army of the Twelve Monkeys". That virus, in Cole's original timeline, caused the death of 93.6% of the world population. Cole will be helped by the brilliant virologist Cassandra Railly (Amanda Schull) and a math genius with mental issues, Jennifer Goines (Emily Hampshire).
- Dark Matter: A group of six people with no memory of who they are and where they came from wake up on a starship. Naming themselves "One" through "Six" in order of their awakening, they stabilize their vessel and begin trying to figure out what happened to them with the help of an on-board android.
- Killjoys: Follows a trio of hard-living but fun-loving bounty hunters – Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen), John (Aaron Ashmore), and D'avin (Luke Macfarlane)– taking on interplanetary missions, chasing and capturing deadly criminals throughout a distant system named the Quad. They have sworn amongst themselves to remain neutral during a bloody, multi-planetary class war that threatens to destroy the Quad.
- The Expanse: Two hundred years in the future, in a fully colonized Solar System, police detective Josephus Miller, born in the asteroid belt, is given the assignment to find a missing young woman, Julie Mao. Meanwhile, James Holden, the first officer of an ice freighter, is involved in a tragic incident that threatens to destabilize Earth, Mars and the Belt. Far away from their struggles in space, Chrisjen Avasarala, a United Nations executive, works to prevent war between Earth and Mars by any means necessary. Soon, the three find out that the missing woman and the ice freighter's fate are part of a vast conspiracy that threatens all humanity.
- The Magicians: Quentin Coldwater enrolls at Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy to be trained as a magician, where he discovers that the magical world from his favorite childhood books is real and poses a danger to humanity. Meanwhile, the life of his childhood friend Julia is derailed when she is denied entry, and she searches for magic elsewhere.
- Wynonna Earp: Follows Wyatt Earp's great granddaughter as she battles demons and other creatures. With her unique abilities, and a posse of dysfunctional allies, she brings the paranormal to justice.
- Hunters: The disappearance of a decorated FBI agent's wife leads him to a secret government unit assembled to hunt a group of ruthless terrorists - shadowy figures that may or may not be from this world.
Announced, unrealized projects
- The Chronicles of Amber: Four-hour miniseries based on Roger Zelazny's 10-volume series, scripted by Richard Christian Matheson, with Tom Patricia of Patriarch Pictures as executive producer.
- Colosseum: made-for-TV-movie in which modern-day fight promoter Tommy Pettigrew finds himself transported in time to the Colosseum of Rome in the year AD 95, with a script by Sam Egan. Directed by Mario Azzopardi and executive produced by Egan, Azzopardi, and Matt Loze.
- The Forever War: Four-hour miniseries, scripted by John Fasano and based on Joe Haldeman's novel of that name. Executive producers were Richard Edlund, along with Peter Sussman and Ed Gernon for Alliance Atlantis.
- Myst: Four-hour miniseries based on the video game Myst. A Mandalay Television Pictures production, executive produced by Elizabeth Stephen with Rand Miller and Susan Bonds of Cyan, in association with Columbia Tri Star Domestic Television and distributed through USA Cable Entertainment.
- On the Seventh Day: Seven-hour minseries set in 2850 in an overcrowded world in which the government has assigned people one day a week to live, while spending the remaining six days in cryogenic suspension, from writer and executive producer Gary Sherman and USA Cable Entertainment.
- 1000 Days: A live-action made-for-TV-movie and backdoor pilot based on the Marvel Comics series Strikeforce: Morituri, about near-future soldiers who gain enhanced abilities but die 1,000 days later. Written by Art Marcum and Matt Holloway, it was a Reveille Productions and Marvel Studios co-production executive produced by Reveille head Ben Silverman and Marvel Studios' Avi Arad and Rick Ungar.
- Alien Blood: TV-movie of a human rebellion when an invading alien army demands that one million people be sacrificed. Produced by UFO Films.
- Brother Voodoo: A live-action made-for-TV-movie and backdoor pilot based on the Marvel Comics supernatural character Brother Voodoo. Hans Rodionoff was announced to write the screenplay, set in New Orleans, of this Reveille Productions and Marvel Studios co-production executive produced by Reveille head Ben Silverman and Marvel Studios' Avi Arad and Rick Ungar.
- Dead Rail: A made-for-TV-movie set aboard a bullet train headed to Las Vegas on its inaugural run, and a detective who must battle hostile aliens. Written by Brian Smith, "founder of SciFi.com's Seeing Ear Theatre", and produced by Glow Worm.
- The Twelve: A miniseries, based on a concept by David Pirie, about an FBI agent who finds evidence that the world will end on the twelfth day of Christmas. With Martin Scorsese and producer Barbara De Fina as executive producers, with Cappa/De Fina Productions in conjunction with Adrian Bate and Zenith Entertainment Ltd., it was scheduled to debut in December 2005.
- Barbarian Chronicles: A half-hour animated ensemble comedy show created by Brendon Small. To be co-produced by David Letterman's Worldwide Pants production company.
- Dallas in Wonderland: A half-hour reality series hosted by Dallas Campbell, where he attempts to succeed at a series of sci Fi challenges.
- Heroes Anonymous: A live-action show based on the Bongo Comics Group comic about a group of superheroes that start a support group.
- Seriously Baffling Mysteries: A half-hour mockumentary hosted by Jonathan Frankle, which goes in search of the paranormal on a shoestring budget.
- Those Who Walk In Darkness: A live-action adaptation of the novel by John Ridley.
- Time Tunnel: A remake of the 1960s ABC sci-fi series The Time Tunnel. Co-produced with Fox Television Studios and Kevin Burns and Jon Jashni of Synthesis Entertainment. Written by John Turman.
- Tomorrow's Child: A series about a girl who received extraordinary powers after being saved by an alien. Produced by NBC Universal Television Studio and Gary Foster's Horseshoe Bay Productions.
- Urban Arcana: A live-action series based on the role-playing game. Aron Coleite was to write and Gary A. Randall and Rockne O'Bannon were to produce in association with Fox Television Studios.
Syfy original films
Spearheaded and originally launched by Thomas Vitale in 2001, and managed by Vitale, Chris Regina, and Ray Cannella, 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.
Syfy's website launched in 1995 under the name "The Dominion" at SciFi.com. It dropped the "The Dominion" name in 2000. 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).
Syfy.com was redesigned in early 2015, allowing users to watch the live channel on the site, as well as episodes of most current programming.
SyfyWire (formerly Sci-Fi Wire and Blastr) is a website operated by Syfy which features coverage of news in the science fiction, horror, and fantasy genres. The site was re-branded in 2010 as Blastr, with the addition of feature articles, guest columnists (such as Phil Plait), popular science news and coverage, and video content. In December 2016, Blastr re-branded as SyfyWire; editor-in-chief Adam Swiderski stated that this change was to closer associate the website with the Syfy television channel.
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.
Sci Fi Magazine
Sci Fi Magazine was the channel's official magazine. It later became an unaffiliated magazine, but often covers Syfy shows.
SyfyGames.com is an online games portal which offers free-to-play MMO and casual games. The site features predominantly sci-fi and fantasy games from third party developers. In April 2015, the News section of SyfyGames.com was rebranded to feature "news from G4", possibly to prevent the trademark dilution of the "G4" name used by the defunct cable channel of the same name.
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.