Which viewers should TV networks listen to?

TVEarSyfy.jpgA fun thing about working at Syfy is that we have a VERY vocal audience, and that means we get a lot of feedback. I personally see hundreds of notes from viewers each week through e-mail, Twitter, on our message boards, on Facebook...even actual letters. I also talk directly to viewers whenever I can, at places like Comic-Con or when I speak at Internet conferences. Something viewers tell me all the time is that Syfy needs to LISTEN to its core audience and put the programming on that true sci-fi fans REALLY want to see. I agree 110%, except which audience and what programs? Turns out, just like the rest of the TV world, sci-fi fans don't agree on what they like and don't like. For everyone that loves Stargate, I can find someone who hates it. If you think giant monsters count as sci-fi, the next person over disagrees. The most famous example I can think of is Battlestar Galactica. When we announced the Battlestar remake and that Starbuck was going to be (gasp!) a woman, a big selection of fandom went semi berserk. They hated the idea that Battlestar was being remade, and they REALLY hated Starbuck's gender switch. In the Wikipedia entry for Starbuck there's a great quote from Ron Moore on the topic:
When [the fans] heard Starbuck was going to be a woman, it was just like, There can never be peace between us! Blood has been spilled!
Guess what went on to become our most beloved series of all time, and which character became the fan favorite? Had we listened to the massive outcry of fans who hated the idea, we never would have made what some (including me) consider one of the best sci-fi shows in history. Let's not even get started on opinions about the ending... Another perennial hot topic is our Saturday night movies, which often involve outrageous monsters and limited budgets. The fans who love them REALLY LOVE them and want more. The fans who hate them REALLY HATE them and don't want us to air them at all. To give you an example, yesterday I asked on Twitter: "What do you think of Syfy's Saturday night movies? Pro or con, I'd like to hear for an upcoming post I'm doing." Here are some of the replies:
CMSed @Syfy Pro, Pro, oh my GOD PRO! 8DDD @Syfy They seem like everything people don't like about/expect from bad Science Fiction: poorly crafted silliness with horrid acting. shinyinfo2 @Syfy I LOVE the original movies. Every Saturday night I look forward to them. It's always sad when you don't play originals on Sat. :( rocknjosie @Syfy If one more animal dinosaur hybrid movie gets greenlighted...well I guess I'll just keep not watching them, so do what you gotta do Annaleen @Syfy A wonderful guilty pleasure that keeps the old-fashioned drive-in movie spirit alive. Titles alone are great! "Mongolian Death Worm." laeknir @Syfy about Syfy Saturday night movies, never watch them. Usually they are 1-star or worse, other stations often have better shows/movies. dtheories @Syfy Enjoy Sat Night flicks. Good break from studies. Looking fwd to Lost Treasure and Shanks! Any chance for Escape from Mars or Sumuru? naveedbhatti @Syfy they waste money that could have been used on things that were actually good, like Stargate: Atlantis Gyphon @Syfy Saturday night movies are great. Keep them coming! bradzb @Syfy honestly there hasn't been one that I could watch for more then 30 minutes in awhile. All pretty meh. magicgirlsue @Syfy I enjoy your Sat nite movies. Original, campy, often a little twist- good fun! (Thank you)
Ghost Hunters is another polarizing show. People who believe in ghosts and think ghosts are part of science fiction love the show and want more. People who don't believe in ghosts or think ghosts don't count as science fiction want us to take it off the air. I'm pretty sure I can guess where BoingBoing readers will fall ;) The only thing all our viewers agree on is that each one of them is right and people who don't agree with them are wrong! Our solution to this dilemma is simple: We take everyone's opinion into account. Not only about shows, but about individual episodes of shows. I've grown to love logging onto Twitter during episodes of our original series to talk to viewers about what they like (and don't like) while they're watching live. It's an amazingly fun and enlightening experience. On a broader level, it's why we provide a mix of programming. We have Ghost Hunters and monster/disaster movies and dramas like Caprica and Stargate: Universe and old school series like Star Trek and The Outer Limits and "dramedies" (I personally hate that word btw) like Warehouse 13 and Eureka and reality shows like Destination Truth, etc. It's a system that's inherently imperfect, always boisterous, ludicrously fun and actually works pretty well in the end.


  1. In the perfect world, networks would listen to viewers who refuse to watch commercials. People who never view commercials aren’t swayed by the tactics used by networks to boost ratings.

    These schemes are exactly what viewers hate, such as changing the name of the Sci fi channel to SyFy or changing the content of Cartoon Network from cartoons to stupid, immature live action stereotypical ‘badass teens’ shows.

    Where are we now that we apparently can’t sit through a TV show without being interrupted every 5 minutes with a 3 minute commercial break? Networks seem to think viewers have the attention span of a house fly.

    I say everyone should just stop watching networks controlled by ad whoring corporations. Watch PBS, TV shows on the internet, rent DVDs, or get Netflix.
    There are some really great shows on Netflix’s Instant Watch list without a single advertisement anywhere on the program.

  2. Giant monsters are sci-fi (and cool) only if the monster is being ridden by a sword-wielding, enchantress with huge boobs.
    Then it’s not just sci-fi, it’s also awesome.

    1. (Responding to comment #2) It sounds like your future is illustrated by Frank Frazetta, who just passed away at the age of 81. RIP

  3. I’m struck by how folks in Craig Engler’s position must have extraordinarily thick skins. Somehow TV can bring out incredibly strong opinions in us, and to be able to hear both the good and bad one must be incredibly patient. On top of that, to suss out the good opinions vs. the bad is where true judgement lies. Appreciating hearing the complexity that goes into making programming decisions.

    All that said, I do wish Ghost Hunters was classified as “fiction”!

  4. Seriously?
    First Starbuck is not a valid point cause it was a REMAKE. You remake anything beloved and change something and it will cause an uproar even if it turns out better.
    second, you have enough of those movies and shows hardcore scifi fans hate to start a new network with. Ghosts, monster of the month movies, wrestling, merlin and the like could be SYFY plus network. Then move SYFY into a more scifi network. even reruns of above and beyond, earth2, and maybe reinvisioned versions of those kinds of shows could be done and be better. splitting into 2 networks would probably please almost everyone if done right and done with a commitment to each ones programming.
    You would think with it being a scifi channel the online experience would be somewhat worth it, but its terrible. i mean its not the system is imperfect, its that there doesnt seem to be any direction, commitment, or overall vision to the channel or the fans. Its a new age and you would think scifi people would lead it. Think outside the box(TV) for your advertisers and ratings and it can be done.

  5. When the BSG mini-series was set to premiere, I knew a lot of Sci-Fi fans who were so against the idea of a re-imagined Battlestar Galactica. But I was eager because of two things: Mary McDonnell and Edward James Olmos. Five minutes into the mini I was sold. I couldn’t wait for the show to pick up. To this day, no matter what has come through my television, Battlestar Galactica has remained my number one, all-time favorite drama/sci fi show. Period. So thank you for NOT listening to the fans.

  6. I second that comment on the Sci-fy to Syfi.. cheap trick that is likely to alienate as many viewers as it gains.

  7. I don’t believe in ghosts, but I like horror and science fiction about such things. The problem is that Ghost Hunters is such bad, sensationalist stuff. A show that genuinely explored ‘haunted'(or just creepy) places and their history/mythology in a way that wasn’t completely insulting to the viewer’s intelligence could be very interesting.

    You could say that BSG was such a popular and critical success because it didn’t underestimate its audience.

  8. I used to like Ghost Hunters, before the only two normal people in the group gave up their plumbing jobs and then eventually stopped consistently appearing in episodes.

    If Mario and Luigi stopped being plumbers, and then started having Yoshi and Toad do their video games for them, there’s a chance I’d stop playing Mario too.

  9. The ultimate solution (in part) would be for TV to be viewer’s choice. You could select what shows don’t air on your TV, and instead choose a rerun to air instead. This is good if you can’t watch a show at it’s regular time slot. Just watch it instead of something you don’t want. Networks/Cable would also show the original commercials with the show, same as regular time (Like TV Land would sometimes do, showing really old commercials just like the original airtime way back when). Everybody’s happy, everybody wins (except some money goes towards what you hate, not what you like, but hey, can’t have everything.)

  10. … LISTEN to its core audience … I agree 110%, except which audience and what programs?

    This is a fascinating topic. And it applies to other media, and to modern life, in so many ways.

    EG newspapers: “Dear Editor: Please drop all of your stupid comic strips!” “Dear Editor: Don’t you dare kill my beloved ‘Nancy’!” Or Ipad apps: “You left out X feature that’s irrelevant to everyone except me! You suxor. Zero stars!” Don’t even get me started on politics.

    The point is (I guess) in a world where feedback can be surprisingly open in a lot of ways, you end up hearing from … who? The angriest? The most passionate? The most motivated to complain?

    However you define it, it probably doesn’t include a representative proportion of the vast middle.

  11. Ghosts can definitely be a part of science fiction, Ghost Hunters is not science fiction. Until you guys started showing wrestling it was the stupidest thing on Syfy. Speaking of which… do you seriously think wrestling is science fiction?

  12. I wouldn’t worry about intercine warfare between science fiction fans. That’s been going on forever; we’re an opinionated bunch and we like to argue. And we aren’t even consistent: I don’t like modern low-budget monster movies with hokey CGI but I LOVE old low-budget monster movies with hokey rubber suits. Go figure.

    “There are some really great shows on Netflix’s Instant Watch list without a single advertisement anywhere on the program.”

    You know, those shows did not spring fully-formed from the streaming servers of Netflix. Most of then were paid for in first-run by eeevil corporate broadcasting companies and advertising. Or, in the case of some shows from PBS and the BBC, by mandatory tax contributions and private sponsors. Many of which sponsors are corporations, including the quasi-governmental Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

    But you do have a very good point about the dangers of diluting the content that makes a genre network special. You alienate a core audience that cares about your shows for a general audience that doesn’t care if they’re watching SyFy or TNT.

  13. Thanks so much for all your posts. I’m loving learning about your industry, and I regret people are treating your efforts so rudely. Keep ’em coming! :)

  14. @Jmp478 All those TV shows you pay money every month to watch on Netflix started as shows interrupted by commercials. If that format didn’t exist, those shows wouldn’t exist either. The fact that you’re going out of your way to avoid them at all costs is what’s making them more annoying. If the only way people watched TV shows was through Hulu or the like, I guarantee you Hulu would start having 3 minute commercial breaks in the video feed as well, and you can’t skip forward on those like you can on a Tivo.

    Also, while I don’t particularly care for the name Syfy, the explanation on their webpage made me at least respect the reasons behind the change.

  15. Man, I love these posts.

    By the way, those Saturday night flicks are seriously awful. I’ve never understood why they have an audience. I’ve tried watching them when I stumble upon them, but I can never get through much.

    Nonetheless, it is cool that they are there. What other major cable channel knowingly and happily continues pumping out that type of corny indie material?

  16. I love the Stargate: Atlantis! Lol. There is always someone who doesn’t like what someone else is doing. I doubt Syfy is planning on changing their movie format. I for one think it is a fun way to spend a Saturday- when your other plans fall through. :)

  17. Why do people whine so much about what has been, up until this point, a single hour of wrestling each week on this channel? It’s not that big a deal, give it a rest. You don’t like it, find something else to watch Tuesday nights at 10pm. At least it’s original programming that draws decent ratings and not another lame Enterprise re-run.

  18. according to the response to your posts so far i think its evident that this ‘never does everyone agree on everything’ sentiment is incorrect in at least one instance: 100% of people think syfy is a stupid name for a network

    OTHERWISE this is absolutely true. i select content for a much smaller audience than you do here online (its a subscription entertainment website) but we get exactly the same feedback. “[writer] is a waste of perfectly good internal organs–have him harvested” in one email, “[same writer] is wonderful, more of them” in the next

  19. great article, thanks for the insight. sorry you are getting slammed by the majority of the people on here. appreciate you explaining the issues despite the negativity.

  20. Now I’m dying to know who writes in to say they love your wrestling shows, and how badly they’re outnumbered.

  21. To claim Ghost Hunters has anything to do with science fiction is ridiculous, same with wrestling. I’m with Neon Tooth, if the subject of ghosts was treated intelligently, perhaps there’s a place on Sci-Fi, otherwise, get rid of it. It’s sad because Discovery has gone this same route, showing lots of lame “reality” shows that have no redeeming qualities as well as airing stuff that is easily debunked by skeptics without any critical thought in the show.

    So please, stick to sci-fi, or even science, or fiction with a bit of science or fantasy in it, but not something that claims to be real that is complete fiction.

  22. Well, count me in as an fan of the concept of a Sci-Fi network, but an anti-fan of SyFy (the name), most of the cheesy movies, Ghost Hunters, and god forbid, wrestling.

    Of course you can’t please everyone all the time. What annoys me, is that the channel selected a vision (Science Fiction), but instead of staying with the vision, it’s pandering to the masses. While this annoys me, it unfortunately doesn’t surprise me at all.

    It’s just sad to think that actual, decent SciFi content isn’t enough to keep a network afloat. SyFy is, for me, heading in the direction of other network that abandon their vision for “what sells”. When I think about M-TV – “Music” television, that no longer contains any music to speak of – it makes me so vexed that I can’t bring myself to watch any (non-music) programming, no matter how good it might be, that broadcasts on that channel.

    At least you folks took the first step to change the name. Hopefully, as the programming drifts, the name will continue changing to realistically reflect the content.

    Despite my evident frustration over the channel’s content, the posts have been interesting!

    1. Maybe in a couple more years the name will change to just “Fy” so that no one will have any hook on which to hang a complaint.

  23. Craig:

    Every thread in response to your (very interesting) posts has had several comments about wrestling, to which as far as I can tell you have not responded.

    Can I put it to you point blank? What part of your core audience, the audience that has been there since the beginning of SciFi, responds favorably to “WWE Smackdown”?

  24. I agree with those who don’t care for the “SyFy” name change. But then, I also don’t care for all the stuff they show on SyFy that isn’t “Sci Fi”. ie Ghost Hunters (faux reality) and wrestling (faux sports). Maybe that’s it, they changed the name to “SyFy” (faux sci fi) to match that material.

    Also, I also have never been able to sit through an entire Saturday night movie (faux quality).

    1. SciFaux, or Syfo as Craig’s peers would have it. (I kid Craig, you’re a cool dude and I appreciate you posting here. Even if you do have to obey the PR monkeys).

  25. “I’m pretty sure I can guess where BoingBoing readers will fall ;)”

    As ghosts do not exist, that “Ghost Hunters” constitutes fraud and should be pulled immediately, of course.

  26. I’m boggled by the continued existence of Ghost Hunters not because I believe in ghosts or don’t believe in ghosts, or because I think they’re SF or because I don’t think they’re SF, but because after 15 minutes I was reliving the agony of Geraldo Riviera in Al Capone’s vaults.

  27. If all the people who like the Saturday night movies are helping to subsidize shows I actually watch and enjoy, like Eureka and the Stargate franchise, that’s fine with me. No one is forcing me to watch them.

    I do have to wonder why wrestling shows were ever allowed on Scifi, though. While I can make a case for wrestling shows being fiction, I can’t figure any scenario in which they would be science fiction. And as for the name change . . . what was the point, exactly? Yeah, I know what the marketing guys said, but what was the point really? Trademarkability?

  28. I think it comes down to a basic question: Can you have a channel that just shows SF? And apparently, the answer is “no”.

    I can’t watch syfy but when I had cable in the UK I used to watch our “scifi” channel. It had come to the same conclusion, and showed a lot of pulp action, horror, and basically anything else it could get it’s hands on.

    Maybe single-genre channels is something that broadcast media doesn’t do well. And with Tivo-like boxes (I run a MythTV PC instead of a DVR) perhaps it doesn’t matter.

  29. I’m a big Science Fiction fan and I have been disappointed with the SciFi channel ever since I discovered it in the early 90s. It hasn’t changed since. It’s usually one of my ‘Recall’ channels that I flip to while I’m watching something else and a commercial is on. I look at it while I’m surfing and more often than not, I don’t like what’s playing and just keep on going. I’ve never expected that just because it’s called SciFi, that it’s actually going to fulfill my science fiction viewing needs.

  30. Seems to me that the Saturday Night Movies and Wrestling are catering to the same demographic. Also agree that the SyFy name change was horrible. maybe “H0ЯR0R TV” is next…

  31. Mad props for leaning an ear to the fandom.

    Or, at least fandumb.

    All I know is that if you aren’t doing things that aren’t challenging the notion of what you should be doing, you probably aren’t growing. Controversy is good, you know at the very least that there’s a passionate fanbase. And if they put their money where their mouth is, you’ve got a good excuse to keep them happy.

    Of course, if you grow too much, you inevitably change, and leave open what you used to do…but c’est le TV.

  32. As i read comments to craigs posts, it makes me think. And Craig, i havnt said it, but if you read all the comments and dont blast all of us and quit posting things….you are a god. You know your gonna get this every time you post and it must be annoying to write with that thought in mind.
    Anyway i went to SYFY.com and looked at looked at the “TOP SHOWS” tab….Des. truth, FOUR ghost hunters, NXT, and scare tactics all nonsci fi. Merlin, OSA, and riverworld nonscifi. Then battlestar (not on anymore), SG:U and caprica will soon be cancelled. that leaves eureka, sanctuary, and warehouse as Scifi related programming. Haven is listed for june 9th release.

    So why even try and do anything scifi anymore? Just announce a new name, new programming, and get it over with. 16-17 years ago SCIFI was created and now i am 36 and its dead. Its now Pseudoscience and fluff.

  33. I have no problems with Ghost Hunters, bad Saturday Night movies, etc. In my opinion at least they’re REMOTELY related to Sci-Fi & Horror. On the other hand Wrestling & cooking shows are NOT! For years the channel has been trying to distance itself from Science Fiction, making itself a Science Fiction channel that doesn’t show Science Fiction (MTV) which ABSOLUTELY makes no sense! Changing the name to syfy is a big step to shed it’s original purpose and become one of these crappy run-of-the-mill cable channels I’ll never watch (BBC America showing Star Trek the Next Generation & American movies, TV Land showing high school reunion reality shows, cartoon network showing live action programs) a few months ago, there were FOUR channels showing BIG starring Tom Hanks at the same time! FOUR! Why? Cable TV has been a HUGE waste of time and money, so I decided to cut the cord last month and only watch my media server.

  34. Please add me to the ranks of those who would like to hear your thoughts on Wrestling and how you feel it improves the brand.

    The name change (you guys do know that many folks think ‘sexually transmitted disease’ when they see SyFy, right?) was pretty bad, but wrestling feels like a gut punch. I may be making an unfair generalization, but many of us spent our school careers being ostracized by the kind of folks who love WWE wrestling.

    SciFi felt like a refuge on television for things _I_ as a science fiction nerd liked, now we can’t even have that.

  35. My opinion is that there are two basic types of Scifi fans, those who like the intelligence of it all (be it the “real” science, good plot lines/twists, and thoughtful manipulations of understood science, beliefs and psychology), and those who like the effects and makeup and action and cool looking stuff with cool stories where aliens beat up monsters while ghosts destroy planets. To those of us who enjoy the intelligent aspects, the inclusion and promotion of “stupid” or “dumb but cool looking” shows is difficult to take because to us you are reducing the value of Scifi. The Scifi genre has been one of the last vestiges of intelligence on tv and trying to satisfy those who are just looking for “cool” stuff is “dumbing down the masses” and “is ruining society” or something like that. The slow decline from intelligence driven to “cool” satisfying is viewed as a slippery slope that may not be reversible. We used to be NERDS for reading and watching SciFi, now the “cool” kids are getting into it. It’s like what goths feel like when people started getting into vampires. You’re taking something we’ve spent a lot of time creating and making it the same as the crap we tried for so long to distance ourselves from.

  36. Perhaps they should listen to what viewer don’t want to see.

    The basis of the channel (at least it used to be!) is science fiction. If a show doesn’t have some of both then it shouldn’t be there. Most monster movies would make the cut but there are a few that wouldn’t, I would miss em but ok.

    Reality shows of any kind should NOT be there. Any show that is true or portrays itself to be true should not be there. If you have a movie or show about a ghost and a mad scientist then fine pop it right in. BUT ghost shows that pretend to find evidence with hokey sounds and light and camera tricks (awful in many cases) but make gullible people believe in that crap should not be there.

    And don’t get me wrong, I neither believe nor disbelieve in ghosts but that kind of pseudo science is useless at best and quite harmful to some folks.

    Back to the roots, Science Fiction.

  37. B movies are fine but my question is this. The channel is for Science Fiction and is owned by NBC/Universal/Comcast correct? That groups also owns a cable channel called “Chiller” geared toward the horror genre. So many of Syfy’s B movies are a better fit for Chiller than Syfy. Why produce those movies on Syfy’s dime when they could produce more scifi B movies, put the money into their series, acquiring re-broad cast rights to scifi shows, or movies. But I agree with progrocktv too many networks have traded their niche and focus to get viewership (MTV, Cartoon Network, even the History Channel, etc). Take lessons from USA, AMC, etc. IMHO too many good scifi shows that should be on Syfy (not on on the big 4) die before their time. So NBC/Universal/Comcast please give Syfy a bigger budget. And most of all put shows where they will thrive. (If Life would have been on USA it would have been a perfect fit to their summer line up).

  38. One of the observations I’ve made on how people react to television is that specialty stations seem to polarize people more than networks. Everybody seems to have their own opinion of what a specialty station “should” program.

    A major network can jump all over the spectrum of what shows they air but as soon as SyFy or Cartoon Network step out of what their “fans” consider proper programing they crucify them. MTV on the other hand is another story, if you are going to call yourself “Music Television” you probably should consider programming some music every once in a while…

    I’m not a fan of wrestling at all and don’t really see how it ties into the channel. But honestly if it’s bringing in viewers/sponsors and making enough money to cover other shows I like that may not be as popular I’m all for it on the station.

    People are resistant to change and its a good thing networks such as SyFy are willing to take a chance on programming. If somebody asked if I’d be interested in watching BSG before it came out I’d have said no based on how campy the original was. Same is true with Caprica or even Merlin. I wouldn’t have green lighted any of them, but you’ll find them all on my DVR or DVD shelf today.

    BTW, why all the Ghost Hunters hate? I’ve seen a bunch of comments that knock the show for the opposite reasons of why I watch it. My favorite aspect of it is how they’re first priority is often to disprove paranormal activity rather than tie everything to a ghost. You may be confusing it with Ghost Adventures, which is awful. :)

    1. That’s because network TV has never billed itself as offering a specific type of programming. The specialty channels are supposedly supposed to appeal to people interested in viewing programming related to various particular themes. When a channel seems to completely abandon its premise (*cough* wrestling *cough*) it tends to turn off the people who watched it.

  39. I see you avoided the Wrestling subject again. Its bad enough that it is on the SciFi channel in the first place, but when it runs over and messes up my dvr recordings of shows that come after it is really annoying. You would think a scripted fake fighting show could keep it under 1 hour…

    And yes i went back and adjusted all my series recordings to extend to 30minutes so i dont miss the endings any more.

  40. Amazing posts, really nice. The kind of stuff everybody outside the medium doesn’t have a clue. You should also adress the costs of production, writing, etc, so the more naive folk can stop dreaming about an ad-less channel with quality entertainment.

    Keep up the good work, and you’re a master at handling all the trolling. No way I could take so much.

  41. I’m probably going to get yelled at, but I’ll post my confession here anyway: I love those Saturday Night SyFy Original Movies. I don’t take them remotely seriously, or course, and don’t expect great art. What I do expect to see is giant sharks or other creatures eating planes and other equally silly things. And more often than not, I am laughing and am entertained.

    There’s a lot of stuff on the channel I have no interest in. But then there’s a lot of stuff on every TV channel I’m not interested in. But I enjoyed BSG and am enjoying Caprica. I’ll watch the shows I enjoy, and ignore the ones I have no interest in.

    Sure, they could run more “serious” SF films. I’d love to see that. But I also want to see sequels to Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus and Mega Piranha. Perhaps I’m just easily entertained. But I think there’s room for both of these types of programming.

    I personally have zero interest in wrestling, but if it brings in money and allows another season of Caprica to be shot, I’m all for it. I suspect that any sort of SyFy cooking show will be a very short lived program, but then again I could totally be wrong. We shall see, I suppose.

  42. From what I remember of Philosophy, I think we’re dealing with the fallacy of the golden mean, or something very much like it: people have these very polarised opinions about what does and doesn’t belong on a “Sci-Fi” channel, so the higher-ups have seen fit to put all of it on the air (don’t ask me where wrestling enters the picture, though!). I think that spinning off multiple channels (horror, fantasy, paranormal, etc) is a better solution than trying to please everyone at once…but then I suppose I’m not the one who has to walk into a boardroom and try to sell it!

    Unfortunately, even if the hardcore SF-faithful got their way, Craig is right. I’ve seen people plugging Earth 2, Stargate, Star Trek, Eureka, Space: Above and Beyond, and Firefly in the above comments…and I imagine that if you put out a survey you’d see Farscape, Babylon 5, Lost in Space, Buck Rogers, Odyssey 5, Andromeda, Seaquest DSV…

    But hang on: how many people actually like every last one of those shows? I might come close, but I still think I have better things to do with an hour than watch Stargate (sorry, SG fans, it’s just not my cup of tea!), for example. I don’t think the torrent of opinionated fan mail would stop. I can see that from the perspective of a TV programming official that it doesn’t make a lot of sense to fight the suits for months or YEARS, only to get the same crap from angry viewers that you had always been getting.

  43. As stupid as I think wrestling is, I’m sure you’ve heard it all before. However, on the subject of Ghost Hunters, you have hit on the only subject that literally makes me ANGRY. Making a “reality show” about ghosts is emblematic of what is wrong with American culture. It is a crime almost on par with having “real” monsters on Scooby-Doo.

    1. I’m agreeing with Steve (and several other commenters): On the subject of Ghost Hunters, it’s not just that I don’t think it is appropriate for a SF channel (unless it is marketed as fiction – then I’m OK with it, I like ghost stories). But marketing it as a reality show is, I believe, an ethical offense. I think the same thing about any show, network or otherwise, that gives any airtime or support for psychic phenomena, prophecies of Nostradamus, or the like.

      As for the Saturday night movies, I always think I *should* enjoy them for being silly, over the top, B-movies (or Z-movies) and that they should be fun to watch and make fun of, but, alas, I don’t think I’ve ever made it all the way through one of them. Sometimes bad is bad. Worse, sometimes bad is boring.

      And while I know that overall they’ve been successful for your network as “event” programming, I’d just as soon Robert Halmi never be allowed near a camera or studio boardroom ever again.

      Finally, regarding the BSG finale. Is there really any controversy over it? You mean some people actually liked it? Personally, I’m willing to pretend the series ended when they found the bombed out planet they thought was Earth.

  44. If you’re just going to follow the loudest voices in a race to the middle, you’re just another network, not a specialty channel. There’s nothing wrong with that, networks have their place. But if every specialty channel makes that transition – and this seems to be the trend – then the fringe markets go unsatisfied and you all end up fighting over smaller and smaller slices of the mainstream market.

    This is exactly the opposite of what was supposed to happen when we got 100s of channels of bandwidth. Consumers were told we’d get more variety, more specialization, more channels catering to our specific market segment.

    Instead, we just get more channels catering to the lowest common denominator.

  45. I don’t get SyFy up here in Canada. Instead, we have Space (www.spacecast.com) which seems almost completely “genre programming”. Fortunately, it doesn’t show wrestling.

    Granted, not all the shows are great, but it’s a full schedule.

    I’m trying to figure out why Space is able to fill the schedule with Sc-fi programming, but SyFy can’t/doesn’t. Some possibilities:
    – We pick up shows in syndication that are first-run in the US on a competing network to SyFy (ie. Smallville from WB)?
    – We’re a smaller market and it doesn’t cost as much?
    – Everyone gets Space as part of their extended cable/satellite package making for better revenue for Space?

    Any ideas?

  46. A related question: Who actually thought that “SyFy” was a good idea? I have yet to hear one person actually approve of the name change, so I’m a bit curious.

  47. sight unseen, i admit that i was fully one of those “anti female starbuck” fans. i couldn’t conceive of starbuck any other way. but you know what? i gave it a chance, and you totally, completely won me over. i was (and am) a huge, huge, huge fan of the new BSG series. even the finale worked for me. (i mean, how else COULD it end??)

    but all this aside, your channel has lost its way, and me along with it. start putting out content about science fiction (old & new), well thought out and done, like BSG, firefly, and dr. who, and i’ll come back. but right now? no way, no how.

  48. I think the problem with SciFi (refuse to use the other name) is the same problem with nearly every other cable station: they started off thinking too small but have failed to effectively adapt. Is there enough programming to have a 24-hour Science Fiction channel? Sure. Is there enough of an audience that is willing to watch said station, to the exclusion of others, to please advertisers? Nope. Though SciFi fans are numerous, we’re still small when it comes to the population as a whole. It’s the same problem that faces any channel that limits itself to pleasing a limited subset of viewers. Look at the failed Anime channels or the Horror channels. It isn’t that there isn’t a fanbase, it’s that there isn’t a large enough one to offset the very real costs of buying and producing programming.

    Here’s where I think channels like SciFi and Cartoon Network have lost their vision: Instead of saying, “Okay. We’ve obviously narrowed our target demographic too small. Let’s see where our viewers fall if we move up a level. People who like SciFi fall into a larger group of people who also tend to like tech shows, Horror, Exploitation Cinema, etc. Let’s begin programming for this larger group. Instead of SciFi, we’ll be The Nerd Network!” Now, obviously, I don’t have research in front of me so the previous example is just an idea for broadening an audience without alienating your previous audience. SciFi, I think, started off with this kind of idea in mind but have made their new target audience *too broad*. Wrestling? Really? Things like that cross the line between expanding and alienating your audience. When you spread yourself too thinly, you lose your identity. I don’t want to come down too hard on the people who work at SciFi. I’m sure that, like any company, there are a few people at the top who make the decisions and everyone else has to follow them if they want to remain employed. I just think that the people who have made the decisions for the last few years are not the right ones to be making them. I have no way of showing my displeasure except for not tuning in. That’s what I’ve done.

  49. I really don’t get why some people (fanboys?) are misunderstanding “sci-fi” in terms of what shows are on. It seems pretty obvious that the network has always been, broadly, a speculative fiction network. The trouble is that the term sci-fi is often used to mean at least two different things: one of them is hard science fiction or at least space opera, and the other is speculative fiction.

    The end result is a lot of griping about Merlin (fantasy, therefore speculative fiction) and Ghost Hunters (also basically speculative fiction, even if I think it’s dumb).

    I don’t have a problem with any kind of spec fic show being on the network; I just wish some of them were higher quality, and that the network could get the rights to good old shows, which seem to be spread through a bunch of other cable networks. It’s sort of weird and depressing that Star Trek: The Next Generation is running on BBC America, but not (gah it hurts to type this) Syfy.

  50. I think it’s fairly ridiculous that people won’t watch a whole network because they hate some shows or the name.

    I hate almost everything on TV, but if there’s a show I like, I’ll watch it. Case in point, I’ll watch shows on FOX! Even though I hate that corporation and what they stand for. Some of their shows are good.

    Picking on Craig because of reality shows is also pretty silly, since reality shows has gutted the whole industry from a creative standpoint, it’s just a reality that it’s where all of TV is making money now.

    If you don’t like x, don’t watch it – except Warehouse 13, watch that ;)

  51. As horrible as the BSG: reimagined travesty was, it was like a gift from God when that ridiculous finale happened and all the fanboys went berserk. All that massive QQing, ’twas pure mana from the heavens. =)

    About Saturday movies, I’m sure they have their viewing audience. Naturally, though, we all want what we want and tend not to care so much about the realities of keeping a channel profitable. If those Sat movies, Ghosthunter busters, or whatever else keeps my Stargate Universe coming, and reruns of various Star Treks on the channel, more power to you!

  52. I think I’ve decided that making movies and TV shows must be the most challenging intellectual and artistic challenge ever created by mankind.

    I’m judging this based on the fact that so many people work in the industry, so much time and money is spent on them, so much hype and hope build around them, so many advertising dollars are invested in them, yet so few of them are actually very good. Even fewer are great.

    What constantly surprises me is how many of them make it completion and airing with gaffes and plot holes than your average bright middle-schooler could point out.

    I think, for things like the Saturday creature features, you should select a set of online reviewers (maybe by random selection and with or without a massive NDA required) and let them comment up the scripts before they get made. Give them “Special Thanks” screen credits. Oh wait, the credits scroll by too fast to read to pack in more commercials – maybe name a few characters after them.

    If nothing else it would be fun for the writers and reviewers and you might prevent some major groans from the audience. Something like what Scalzi does on Stargate Universe.

  53. Here’s the answer that no one wants to give:

    You respond to whatever gives the most ratings for the minimum cash outlay. BSG’s mini-series earned a 3.2 share…so you responded to that…despite the show having a larger budget, it garnered ratings making it profitable for the network.

    I HATE the wrestling…but it clearly brings in ratings. So do that Saturday matinees. Ghost Hunters costs pennies to make, so it doesn’t even have to have high ratings.

    I love Warehouse 13, though I suspect many HATE it for not being THEIR vision of Science Fiction. Tough. My famiy watches it, it got good ratings and word-of-mouth…so it gets renewed. That’s how TV works, kids.

    I remember when the Sci-Fi Channel was first announced (with all that FTL news stuff) and fans at a local con trying to put together a show proposal for ‘proper’ SF on TV…who had no idea how a show actually works. It was laughably pie-in-the-sky about Renaissance space pirates and the life at court. And they were all sure it would work, because they had blinders on (never mind budget constraints).

    And to all those talking about how Syfy could show tons of reruns of genre shows? THEY DID THAT. YOU DIDN’T WATCH IN BIG NUMBERS. NOT EVEN STAR TREK. Seriously, do fans have NO collective memory?

  54. I don’t watch Sci-Fi because so many real problems are overlooked in order to move the stories along. Take the speed of a spaceship. I’m not even talking light speed. You can only accelerate so fast without turning the ship and its contents into wallpaper from G forces. At the end of the journey it will take just as long to stop the ship as it took to get it up to speed. While we think of the universe as mostly empty I’m sure a small meteor fragment would total a spaceship going 100K an hour. Then there’s the radiation our atmosphere and magnetic field protect us from. Going to Mars and back would result in the crew accumulating so many radiation induced chromosomal changes that they’d be toast.
    TV Sci-Fi is just for veggie brains who can suspend their belief from the ceiling.

  55. Here’s what I don’t understand: I’m cool with the fact that for the original movies, you have to work with limited budgets, but it costs just as much to make an interesting movie as it does to make a silly suckfest. No one expects Avatar (nor do most of us want that), but I’ve always thought that SyFy should embrace young and/or indie writers and filmmakers and become a science fiction arthouse. Lest anyone thing that sounds snobby, what I mean is that the channel could be to television what pulp sci-fi magazines were to the literary world of the early 20th century. In a good way.

    In fact, embrace the truth that limited resources often spur the greatest creativity and cleverness. A low budget shouldn’t be an excuse for crap. It should inspire innovation.

  56. 1) i’m STILL not over ‘syfy’ (it’s HORRID)
    2) the wwe or wwf or whatever the eff it’s called now. on ‘sYfY’? blasphemy. i’ll forgive all the crap as long as it’s ‘sYfY’. i will NEVER forgive entertainment wrestling (with linda i’m running for office in connecticut and i’m gonna toss in millions and millions of my own dough made on the backs of men on (allegedly) drugs and men who perpetrate violence against women mcmahon)at one of the helms
    3) as i said, i’ll forgive crap as long as the title is as good as MONGOLIAN DEATH WORM

  57. wrestling is not science fiction. repeat after me, wrestling is not science fiction, wrestling is not science fiction

    the only good shows on sci fi are Stargate (all iterations), Eureka, warehouse 13. The reality shows are crap and wrestling IS NOT appealing to your core audience. the people who made sci fi channel what it is today are the hard core science fiction nerds. Get back to IT!!!!

    and what was up with the name change? distancing yourself from your core science fiction loving audience is not the best plan of attack.

  58. Y’know, I’m gonna side with Craig this time for a change. SF fans are hard as hell to please. With a limited number of time slots to place stuff in, and an even more limited production budget, it’s very hard to not justify pandering to the masses.


    Man, if only there were a distribution medium in which people could choose to watch all the shows they wanted to watch, whenever they wanted to watch them. It would be a total win-win: fans don’t have to fight each other for network scraps, and advertisers get a much narrower viewer demographic, justifying higher ad rates for the distributor. And what if you could splice new ads into older shows? You’d keep people watching the show with your ads for free instead of buying the show on DVD and watching on their own time.

    Yeah, that’d be great. Too bad it’s still science fiction.

  59. I understand Mr. Engler’s point. You really can’t please everyone all the time and making money off of a TV network likely means appealing to the largest group of people possible, so SyFy uses a very broad definition of what scifi is to determine programming. I personally think there is an argument to be made that everything he mentions in this article can be described as scifi. I do wonder, however, where he thinks wrestling falls in all of this. I think it’s interesting that in what was essentially an article defending SyFy’s programming decisions, there’s no mention of the least scifi thing on the channel.

    Wrestling should be on the soap network, it’s just a big soap opera anyway.

  60. To all those who might reasonably wonder why Mr. Engler is side-stepping the giant wrestler in room, it’s because all this talk about “Imagine Greater” and broadening their scope to include sci-fi fans of all stripes, including those who are sufficiently mentally damaged to include ghosts and pseudo-sports in that big tent, is all just to soften the blow.

    SciFi Channel is bring WWE Smackdown to Friday nights. That’s right, the primetime Friday night two-hour block that used to bring you your favorite (actual sci-fi) shows will now be dedicated exclusively to wrestling. Why doesn’t your outrage matter? Because you’re not the coveted 18-34 male demographic that the new programming is expected to appeal to.

    Mr. Engler, this post is perhaps the most dishonest thing you’ve produced during your guest blogging on BB. Justifying what you term “diverse” programming by citing the internecine differences of different sci-fi camps over things like Starbuck’s gender is wholly inappropriate. We can argue all day long over whether Han shot first or whether Starbuck should have been a male, but in the end, no one will argue that these things are not science fiction and should not be the bread and butter of your channel. Similarly, almost no one here is arguing that the Saturday night CGI monster-fests should not be on your channel. We only argue their merits as quality programming. Ghost Hunters, on the other hand, cannot be credibly termed “Sci Fi” by anyone who is familiar with the term. Neither can wrestling.

    These programming changes, along with the transition to the generic “SyFy” brand name, do reflect a rejection of your core audience, even if you fail to recognize who that core audience is. Go to any Star Trek or comics convention. That is your core audience. What do those people want to watch? That’s what you need to be showing 24/7 on your network. What do they not want to watch? That’s what you need to eliminate from your network.

    Congratulations, you’ve successfully alienated everyone who used to compulsively watch your shows and completed your transition to a generic, non-genre network. Now you are free to show Law & Order re-runs alongside Smackdown and Ghost F%*&ers.

    SyFy to core audience: So long, nerds!
    Core audience to SyFy: Good riddance, jerks!

  61. Cater to the audience who likes what you’re about. Don’t cater to the type of audience that turned the Nashville Network into Spike TV.

  62. I’m sure that putting pro (scripted) wrestling and (scripted) reality shows on your network makes economic sense, for the same reason that putting reality shows on MTV made economic sense: There Is A Sucker Born Every Minute.

    But clarify something for me? Is wrestling subsidizing original science fiction series, or are the original science fiction series subsidizing the wrestling shows? I’m afraid to hear the answer, truthfully, because what I want is ala carte programming. But if there just plain aren’t enough people with my tastes to cover the cost of the shows I like, without subsidies from the shows I hate that are more popular, I guess for now I’m better off just accepting the status quo.

  63. Oh, and just in case it wasn’t obvious from my previous post, I consider this a call to arms to all sci-fi-loving nerds everywhere. Summon the full fury of your nerd-rage and all the blogging power it represents and let’s demonstrate to the execs at SyFy the true cost of failing to recognize and cater to their “core audience.”

    Bringing Smackdown to their channel will surely cost an enormous amount of money and will end any hope of channeling that money to other, more worthy, endeavors. Let’s make sure this mistake costs them their viewers as well and serve as a warning to other networks the folly of abandoning the people who supported them. Maybe there is another fledgling network out there waiting to be born who will take this lesson to heart and provide the programming that sci-fi geeks crave.

    1. If you’re so powerful, just start your own cable network. Problem solved. kthxbai

  64. Just give us something original. no remakes. no wrestling. no reality shows. SCIENCE FICTION please.

  65. I don’t care what shows you air as long as they can reasonably be considered science fiction, fantasy or horror. I hate the Saturday night movies but they do have some basis in one of those three genres so go for it. I hate Stargate Universe and Warehouse 13 as well, but it fits so more power to you. But wrestling, Scare Tactics, Anime, any of the ‘reality shows’ (ie Who Wants To Be A Superhero, CHA$E, Estate of Panic, Mad Mad House, etc) don’t even come close to those genres. Syfy will eventually be another Spike, G4, TBS, FX or USA.

  66. In all fairness, “science fiction” is pretty well defined by the “science” and “fiction” parts. No matter how wrong you spell it.

  67. Regarding Ghost Hunters:

    There’s a huge difference between science fiction and idiotic reality.

    There’s a cerebral means of enjoying ghost fiction: being immersed in a fictional universe. However, watching a bunch of idiots get freaked out in dark rooms is like watching fox news. There’s nothing fictional about their delusion, and nothing scientific about their approach to anything.

  68. OMG. We can’t please everyone all the time excuse?
    Really? You do understand the implications right?

    Of course no one claimed you had to please everyone.

    There is always variation in opinion, which is why the above excuse is ONLY ever used as a copout or justification.

    I think people only ask that you listen to the majority.
    If you are honestly saying there is no majority consensus, then your channel is f’ed big time.

    Either you are wrong or you are wrong.

  69. Yes, it is a difficult problem. It is often quite difficult to decide based on viewer feedback, when you have relatively equal amounts of feedback on both sides. I get that from my podcast listeners all the time.

    However, there are some cases where you can do something so obvious that absolutely nobody will be against. You know, something obvious that absolutely everyone is chomping at the bit to pay for, but for some crazy reason, the companies in a position to make it happen just don’t do it. You know, things like iPhone on Verizon.

    What can your TV network put on the air that absolutely nobody will be against?

    MST3K revival. Not a remake. Not re-runs. Just make more of the original real deal.

  70. Did you monkeys crying about the wrestling and the reality shows even read the article?
    Those shows are not there to appeal to the “core” audience. The “core” audience is fickle and overly opinionated. Those shows are there to draw in “other” people who may tune in, watch the show and stay tuned for whatever show happens to come on next. Granted, they’re overdoing it with day long Ghost Hunters marathons, but an hour of wrestling a week (soon to be 3 hours from what I hear) is no big deal. It’s not like you people are watching the damn channel 24 hours a day.

  71. Guess what went on to become our most beloved series of all time, and which character became the fan favorite? Had we listened to the massive outcry of fans who hated the idea, we never would have made what some (including me) consider one of the best sci-fi shows in history. Let’s not even get started on opinions about the ending…

    Trust me, anybody who thinks the last season of Battlestar Galactica was “one of the best endings in history” is not, in any sense, a “true sci-fi fan.”

  72. I think Ghost Hunters is high comedy. “OMG, I heard a squeak!” “A squeak? Let’s play that back.” “Yes, it was definitely a squeak.”

  73. I don’t think it’s much of a paradox that we claim to watch less TV, but statistically we watch more. When I was growing up (cue old fart reminiscences), we had three channels and no remote control. It was cool when a network actually showed a block of shows we liked in a row and with no VCR, we might sit there for 3+ hours watching the same channel.

    Then we got cable and a remote. Now we had 10 or 15 channels (and maybe a VCR). Now we weren’t as likely to veg out on one channel for several hours, but we had a lot more shows to choose from. We could tape shows on the VCR, but it was usually to much of a pain and we reserved that for “can’t miss” shows and a weirdly misguided idea of creating a library of movies and shows, complete with commercials. We also learned to change channels during commercials to see what else is on, which often meant watching something different and not finishing what we were watching. Short attention spans were born.

    Now with hundreds of cable channels, DVDs, DVRs, online streaming, on demand rentals and purchases, etc. of course we watch more TV, we just think we don’t because we watch it when we like. With few exceptions, I don’t think anyone has any true network loyalty or the willpower to boycott a single network. Just because a network shows a series I really like or crap I really hate doesn’t ever make me say, “I love the XYZ network!” or “I’m never watching the MNO network again” (I might say those things, but I never mean them).

    So without true network brand loyalty, we are left with a few things: show loyalty (we’ll watch it wherever it’s shown), genre loyalty (this is weaker, but we’ve all said, “I’d like to watch a SF movie” or a comedy or an action film), and network “trust” (cable networks that show things I like get surfed through, others don’t – I actually hate it when I see a movie I like is on AMC because I’m not going to watch it there with their 10 minute commercial breaks).

    To us the viewers, networks should be “channels” – a way to filter what’s on by genre and target demographic. If I plop down and want to watch SF, I don’t want to surf to SyFy and see wrestling, no matter how many “lead in” viewers it might bring. For the same reason, I don’t usually scan by to see what’s on ESPN or CMT. Put enough crap on your channel or reduce it to random programming to maximize potential audience and you disappear off favorites list, your audiences eyes skip over it on the program guides, and you never have anyone think, “I wonder what’s on SyFy now?”

    1. To us the viewers, networks should be “channels” – a way to filter what’s on by genre and target demographic. If I plop down and want to watch SF, I don’t want to surf to SyFy and see wrestling, no matter how many “lead in” viewers it might bring. For the same reason, I don’t usually scan by to see what’s on ESPN or CMT. Put enough crap on your channel or reduce it to random programming to maximize potential audience and you disappear off favorites list, your audiences eyes skip over it on the program guides, and you never have anyone think, “I wonder what’s on SyFy now?”

      Yeah, that. When I think of ABC, NBC or whatever, I don’t associate them with any particular kind of programming. They show stuff that appeals strongly to the largest possible audience. Generally that means well-written drama set in present day, big city America, a short comedy, or a ‘reality’ show.

      When I consider a network such as CMT, ESPN, or SyFy, I have an expectation of content associated with what I perceive to be the core offering of the network; country music, sports, science fiction/fantasy. The more that the content the network offers deviates from what I expected the core offering to be, the less likely I am to go to that channel for that kind of content.

      Practically speaking though, that doesn’t matter to me anymore. The networks have so diluted their offerings that I don’t bother to try to find good programming by network. Instead I just go to the internet and see what people who like what I like also like (someone needs to set up a Pandora/Last.FM -like site that suggests torrents). Then I just go see who’s got it (and whether they have all of it, so I can see how much of it I will need to torrent).

      So I guess what I’m saying is that network branding is irrelevant to me, SyFy can broadcast anything, I don’t care because I’m not going to watch the broadcast stream no matter whats on it. Just try to get at least one new, solidly science fiction episode up each week. Try to keep it at least StarGate quality. Preferably get it on NetFlix or at least Amazon VOD so I can vote with my Visa/MasterCard.

  74. It was actually a trademark issue: NBCUniversal, the current owners of SyFy, realized they couldn’t trademark “SciFi,” as the term, even in its shortened form, predates the TV network by about 50 years and is common usage. The network bought the SyFy trademark from its originator Michael A. Hinman, who had originally used it for his website (now Airlock Alpha, and still excellent). I attended a convention where Hinman was a guest and told a very entertaining story about their efforts to keep him from knowing who was negotiating to buy the mark. ;)

    As to the original post: Craig, thank you very much for taking time to discuss this issue! It’s a good point of conversation. Despite the name change, I urge you to keep actual science fiction and fantasy the focus of the schedule and not let yourself be swayed by the siren song of programming for the coveted but elusive “18-35 year old male” demographic.

    In particular, wrestling was a terrible idea: a bad fit for the network in general and poor content in particular, given the WWE’s watered-down source material. This was a bad idea from the start, given that even the few people who occupy the Venn diagram overlap between “Science Fiction Fans” and “Wrestling Fans” tend not to be Vince McMahon fans. WWE is the AOL of pro wrestling.

    Stick with science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

  75. Here’s a thought…go to a science fiction convention. Look around. THAT’S science fiction. Not paranormal ghost shows or wrestling.

    1. Well yes, but it’s also filking, LARP, gaming, anime/manga, werewolf/vampire wannabes and other stuff that is only tangentially related to SF.

      The thing to do would be to send some representatives to one of the bigger SF cons like Boskone, Norwescon, Loscon, Westercon and Worldcon/NASFIC, cons that are likely to have a good literary SF track, and sit in on some of the panels to see what people in the SF fandom community (and not a few pros, which is why you want the bigger conventions) are thinking.

  76. When is David Hewlett’s Snow Monkey movie airing (finished shooting a few weeks back)? Is it a ‘monster-of-the-week’ movie?

    Not that it really matters, since we don’t get SyFy (worst. name. ever.) in Australia. The Sci-Fi channel here is rubbish.

  77. I like Caprica, its grown on me. Some of the character development is a little awkward, like I didnt expect Daddy Adama to be such a putz for instance, or that his gay brother would be the best character in the show, but hey you take what you can get. The writing fluctuates between incredible and regurgitated. Between Caprica and SGU, i’d say Caprica is the better overall show. Give them as much rope as they need because there is an audience forming for it.

    SGU is getting better on the second half of season 1 but the plots seem to still be taken off the shelf from older SG episodes and tweaked slightly to fit the stuck on a ship in deep space thingy. Theres only 2 characters that are really compelling, only 1.5 background episodes on any of the characters, and pretty much besides looking hidef, offers some low-res storytelling. There have been 1-2 great episodes, but the rest make me roll my eyes.

    I wish SyFy (really hate the new branding by the way) would start signing some people to exclusivity agreements. Getting guys like Ron Moore, Tim Kring, Joss Whedon, and Josh Friedman under contract to solely produce content would do a lot to improve viewership in my opinion. These guys get beat up by network TV after giving them great shows that get jerked all over new days and timeslots and never get a chance to develop their audience before getting cancelled. Sign them up and get their devoted fans by default. Find them, stay loyal to them, and churn out good programming for the next 10 years. The fans and the subscribers will turn SyFy into must see TV. Not to mention, its a very good demo to sell ad time. (Assuming those fans are the same ones that watched BSG)

    Quit greenlighting low budget movies that are freaking terrible. They do more to hurt the channel than help it, if you are going to do movies, spend some money and make sure its a real event. These chintzy productions just make SyFy look second rate and it kills the brand even more than the awkward spelling.

  78. Look, it’s very simple. There are a lot of people in the world who want lots of different things. When you choose a name or a model for a TV network, you are catering to one specific group of people — the people who identify with that name of model.

    So when you invoke the name of science fiction, you are declaring to the marketplace that you are after the types of people who identify with those words.

    To then attempt to cater to everyone, even the types who don’t really like most science fiction and thus would prefer to stretch it to encompass, well, everything, is to lack resolve, to be disingenuous, to not have the courage of one’s own marketing plan, and essentially to get a bad name.

    This is why SyFy now has a bad name among people who actually like science fiction — this is the worst possible position for your network to be in, as time will tell. Within a few years, your name won’t even be ‘SyFy’ anymore, it’ll be like ‘Genre TV’ or something.

    At least then it’ll be honest.

    And no, ghosts are not science fiction — anyone who can take that idea seriously should clearly not ever find themselves in a position of attempting to curate science fiction. It doesn’t matter that a bunch of people who don’t like science fiction disagree — they aren’t the ones whose opinions you need to ask.

    Truth in advertising — always follow that lodestar, it will set you free.

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