Sci Fis new name, Syfy

Updated: Mar 31 2009, 06:24am hrs
For years, television viewers, journalists who write about TV and services that compile listings have wondered how to refer to a certain cable network: Sci Fi Channel Sci-Fi Channel SciFi Channel SCI FI Channel

Soon, to paraphrase Rod Serlingwhose vintage series, The Twilight Zone, is a mainstay of the Sci Fi Channel executives will submit for your approval another name, not only of sight and sound but of mind, meant to signal a channel whose boundaries are that of imagination. Thats the signpost up aheadyour next stop, Syfy.

Plans call for Sci Fi and its companion website (scifi.com) to morph into the oddly spelled Syfypronounced the same as Sci Fion July 7. The new name will be accompanied by the slogan Imagine Greater.

The tweaking of the Sci Fi name, introduced in 1992, is part of a rebranding campaign that seeks to distinguish the channel and its programming from cable competitors75 of which are also measured by the Nielsen ratings service.

The Syfy namewill be introduced soon to advertisers and agencies by executives of Sci Fi, part of the NBC Universal Cable Entertainment division of NBC Universal, a unit of General Electric. The name will be revealed at an upfront presentation, when networks try to win commitments by advertisers to blocks of commercial time before the start of the next TV season.

Cable channels will spend this month and next making upfront presentations; the broadcast networks will follow in April and May.

One big advantage of the name change, the executives say, is that Sci Fi is vagueso generic, in fact, that it could not be trademarked. Syfy, with its unusual spelling, can be, which is also why diapers are called Luvs, an online video website is called Joost and a toothpaste is called Gleem.

We couldnt own Sci Fi; its a genre, said Bonnie Hammer, the former president of Sci Fi who became president, NBC Universal Cable Entertainment, and Universal Cable Productions. But we can own Syfy.

According to SNL Kagan, a media research company, Sci Fi had 95.2 million subscriber households last year, compared with 93 million in 2007 and 88.2 million in 2006. SNL Kagan estimated ad revenue for Sci Fi at $423.9 million last year, compared with $392.7 million in 2007 and $394.6 million in 2006.

NY Times / Stuart Elliott