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Syfy, formerly known as the Sci-Fi Channel, is an American cable television channel that specializes in science fiction, fantasy, horror, professional wrestling, and paranormal programming. Launched on September 24, 1992, it is part of the entertainment conglomerate NBC Universal. The name Syfy was officially adopted on July 7, 2009.
The Sci-Fi Channel was devised in 1991 by Mitchell Rubenstein and Laurie Silvers, two entrepreneurs from Boca Raton, who currently own HomeTown Cable in South Florida. 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 film and television series that both studios had in their vaults, including Rod Serling's Night Gallery (from Universal TV) and Paramount's Star Trek and classic Universal horror films such as Dracula and Frankenstein. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and author Isaac Asimov were among those on the advisory board.
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 the next year. Vivendi's film, television, and cable TV 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.
On March 16, 2009, Sci Fi announced that it would be changing its name to Syfy, to end confusion over how to capitalize and stylize their name and as part of an on-going rebranding effort. Network officials also noted that, unlike the generic term "sci fi" which represents the entire science fiction genre, the term "Syfy" 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. Reaction to the new name has been largely negative, with people often calling SyFy, Siffy to make fun of the name change. The new name took effect on July 7, 2009.
Syfy is in the process of making more reality shows and edging farther away from science fiction programming, and has been making a conscious effort to do this since the 1990s.
Syfy's programming includes original television movies, miniseries, and series. In the past, the channel has also aired many cancelled "cult classic" science fiction TV shows. It gained national prominence in 2003 with the airing of Steven Spielberg Presents: Taken, which won the Emmy Award that year for best miniseries. In 2006, it also began including several non-sci-fi programs in its line-up, such as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, WWE NXT and WCG Ultimate Gamer.
Syfy has aired anime programming off and on throughout its history. 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. Eventually the channel stopped airing anime, until June 11, 2007, when it began airing a weekly 2-hour programming block called "Ani-Monday". Intended to directly compete with Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, the block features 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 the "Ani-Monday" block, as well as to add a similar two-hour block of horror anime, also called "Ani-Monday", to their sister channel Chiller.
On April 13, 2010, World Wrestling Entertainment announced that they had signed a multi-year agreement that would move WWE SmackDown from MyNetworkTV to Syfy, starting on October 1, 2010 at 8:00PM Eastern/7:00PM Central. The WWE says that the addition of WWE SmackDown to Syfy programming will assist with their targeting of young male and female audiences.
Sci Fi Pictures original filmsEdit
Developed by Chris Regina, Ray Cannella and Thomas Vitale, Sci Fi Pictures original films are typically independently-made B-movies with production budgets of $1 to 2 million each. They usually premiere on Saturday nights. They are also one of the sponsors for the Coalition for Freedom of Information. These films are occasionally retitled for their DVD releases.
The channel's website launched in 1995 under the name "The Dominion" at SciFi.com. In 2000, it dropped the name "The Dominion.". It was one of the first large-scale, publicly available, well-advertised, and non-portal based Web sites. In addition to information on the channel's programming, it covers science fiction in general. The site has won a Webby Award and a Flash Forward Award. From 2000–2005, it published original science fiction short stories in a section called "SciFiction", 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"). As part of the channel's rebranding in 2009, the URL was changed to Syfy.com.
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.
Science Fiction WeeklyEdit
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. It was last edited by Scott Edelman.
Sci Fi MagazineEdit
Sci Fi Magazine is the channel's official magazine. As of 2005, it was edited by Scott Edelman.
Blastr (formerly Sci Fi Wire), an adjunct of the Syfy website, is the daily news wire edited by Patrick Lee. It covers news related to science fiction, fantasy and supernatural-themed entertainment, including films, television, games, books, fandom and rumors. Blastr is frequently cited as a source of breaking news by other Web sites and by publications as varied as the New York Post and TV Guide.
In 2008, Syfy, then the Sci Fi Channel, averaged a 1.0 Household rating; 242,000 Adults 18-34 (up 4% vs 2007); 616,000 Adults 18-49 (up 5% vs 2007); 695,000 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).