Why SciFi Is Now SyFy

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What’s in a name? For the SciFi Channel, which morphs into “SyFy” effective today (Tuesday, 7/7), a new name means a new identity, even if the cable channel is kinda sorta the same as it was before in terms of the shows it airs.

The marketing folks call this “rebranding,” and it has become a relatively common thing for cable networks that want to update their image in a bid to attract new viewers and, on the business side, new sponsors/ Think: Court TV becoming "TruTV," American Movie Classics dropping its full name in favor of the "AMC" acronym, or CNN Headline News shortening itself to “HLN."

That brings us to "SyFy" It might look kind of strange since it’s not even a real word, but network President Dave Howe made a few points about the new name at an event held Tuesday morning outside NBC headquarters in Manhattan to promote the new brand. (NBC owns SyFy) “SyFy,” he noted, “embraces the new media landscape.” He called Syfy “a more portable brand.”

What did he mean by that? And how is that supposed to work? It really comes down to the way we all communicate these days. In a world of texts and tweets, “Syfy” -- a four-letter word with only three letters -- is easier to type on the go than “SciFi.” In other words, it's "more portable." The company believes its new name will have its community of viewers talking, Twittering, and texting about "SyFy” even more than they did about “SciFi.”

Howe and his team just might have something here. As an added benefit, SyFy is also easier to trademark than SciFi, which is a far more generic and commonly-used term. The new name also gives the channel more room to grow beyond it's core male niche, since the link to science fiction (and shows like Battlestar Galactica) will now be more implicit than explicit. The name-change is a logical switch, but don't expect to find Sex and the City reruns turning up on SyFy anytime soon.

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