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 given the James Randi Educational Foundation's Pigasus Award for what was described as questionable reality programming involving paranormal topics.
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 "ringed planet" 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 /ˈsɪfi/ SIF-ee or /ˈsiːfi/ 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.
On May 11, 2017, Syfy unveiled a new logo and imaging, as well as stylized capitalization of the channel's name, which it adopted 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.
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 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. The website was once again redesigned and combined with SyfyWire.com on June 19, 2017 in alliance with Syfy's rebranding.
Syfy Wire (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 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 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.
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