Monday, March 23, 2009

Terilynn's Trek: 3-23-09; SyFy and Howe. Can They Dig Any Faster?

You know, I have to laugh sometimes. Just when you think that media execs can't shove their feet in their respective mouths in any deeper – they surprise me with a full-court press of their entire leg down their throats. Yep it's about SciFi Channel – soon to be SyFy… *Imagine Greater- she whispers*

Seriously - they should have learned from their own tagline and tried to use their imaginations. Trouble is? They think they actually are.

I feel the need to quote one of my own posts from Trek United from yesterday just so you don't think I don't have a grasp on reality.

I happen to know a lot of women who watch and enjoy science fiction and watch the SciFi Channel. When NBC/U changes the name and has already intimated that they will be changing the programming to lure more typical female viewers - that to me means they will be passing on science fiction content and upping the frequency of fantasy and horror programming to appeal the wider mass audience, including women who DON'T like science fiction.

In essence they're dumping science fiction as a foundation and leaving it for the potential of the wider market - just like most other cable channels have done over the years - it started with MTV and when they stopped showing music videos to pull in the teen market with the appalling crap beginning with Real World. MTV is pointless now IMHO - but I'm definitely NOT the market that would make money for them. And I fear science fiction programming will go the way of the dodo when SyFy begins the shift in programming and science fiction fans will once again be ignored.

It's not that there's no money in sci-fi (NuBSG has proven that) it's that there's not ENOUGH money to satisfy the studios for the potential double digit GROWTH in their GOP they strive to maintain and in this faltering economy - that means having to diversify their product to appeal to the most audience possible - and if that means losing their core audience - oh well, as long as they can maintain more than 10% profit year-over-year they don't care.

It's just a shame really.

Seems as though my reasoning was…well…spot on. Here's a quote taken from a prepared Q&A from SciFi Wire (amazing – they're not afraid of the term) completed by President of SyFy – SciFiChannel *grrr whatever!* Dave Howe:

You say you want your brand to be more female-friendly, but I'm a woman and I like the old name. Don't I count?

Howe: You absolutely count, and we appreciate that you're watching our shows. And we're not saying that no women watch the network. In fact, almost half of our audience is women, thanks to shows such as Ghost Hunters that attract more women than men. But overall, our channel and the sci-fi genre in general tend to skew more male than female, and we want to ensure we remain gender-balanced and continue to bring in new female viewers, who often say they don't like traditional sci-fi.


*scratches head*

How am I supposed to respond to this? With sad resignation that apparently the typical female viewer would rather watch inane people run around dark houses pretending to chase ghosts instead of having her brain challenged by a plotline regarding the potential existence and dilemma caused by a naked singularity? (Besides he admitted that almost half of the current audience is female...sounds pretty balanced to me - he just can't admit that the audience itself isn't big enough to make a decent profit margin.)

Being "gender balanced" in a science-fiction viewing audience is not what sexual equality is all about Mr. Howe. Equality = understanding that you don't need to reduce your fare to appeal to the lowest common denominator regardless of gender – it's acknowledging the equality already inherent in people.

People Mr. Howe – not just your market-poll viewing audience. It's about treating PEOPLE with respect. In an effort to make money and buy a brand that you could trademark to assure that materials marketed would be solely owned by your company, you have decided that bulking up your television programming with shows that are cheaper to make and bring in more of the less-than-discerning viewer would be the best way to assure that those profits remain in the "growth" realms.

Science fiction shows are expensive. Well done fantasy and sci-fi/horror shows are expensive, but "non-scripted" *cough – bullphlox – cough* shows are super cheap! Wrestling is cheap! Ghost Hunters and whatever else you call that paranormal bull you're hawking are truckloads cheaper to make than effects laden science fiction series.

Who cares if you're pandering to idiots? It makes money!

You can try to twist your company's reply by saying you're really just being more sensitive to the female viewer – by being nice to them by bringing on more insipid programming that really will appeal to them so you can even out your viewing audience and make it more female friendly.

In doing so – SyFy has now turned it's back on the core audience of BOTH intelligent men and women who loved watching a channel that at one time actually had more science fiction programming than it did commercialized corporate ratification of superstition and fear mongering.

You and your company shouldn't be surprised by the heat you're feeling from those who make up what was once your core audience. We're a pretty intelligent bunch. We can see through the marketing bull and your weak attempts to put a positive spin on the final disembowelment of a once-fun network.

Ghost Hunters and the ilk are fiction, yes – but you're selling them as non-fiction. And the people who buy that crap are not the people who will ever watch "traditional" science fiction Mr. Howe. So don't insult my intelligence by saying you're being sensitive to the female viewer.

SyFy is not the name you should have selected.

If you truly wanted to represent the fare your network will be offering, you should have just done us all a favor and called it TRASH…at least you couldn't be sued for false advertising.

Can you tell you've never been forgiven for pre-empting the last night of fan favorite TNG episodes for wrestling!?

For all of you who have made it through tonight's rant, I thank you. Here's another article – additional damage control if you will – being offered by Mr. Howe. How many shovels can this man use at one time?

Here he tries to explain that the polls told them the name was okay…really! The polls said everything was all right – that SyFy was the best choice!

Yeah – out of what? The other choices were "SFC" and "Beyond."

*headdesk* Sounds like a wrestling group and a brand name for feminine products - no wonder they didn't do as well as SyFy!

I would love to hear your take on this hilarious SPIN of events!

1 comment:

  1. "But overall, our channel and the sci-fi genre in general tend to skew more male than female, and we want to ensure we remain gender-balanced and continue to bring in new female viewers, who often say they don't like traditional sci-fi."

    This part puzzles me to no end. Who exactly chooses those shows they air? I'm pretty sure they do that themselves. Fair enough wanting to vary their programming, but damn, don't blame the equal rights cause! And what on earth does changing the name have anything to do with a more varied audience? And what's the damn point of making polls, if you only provide dumbass choices? I suppose the point being here, that whatever stupid new concept you come up with, you can always blame the poor sods who have to choose between bull and poop and trash. Call it "viewers' choice". Excuse me while I go puke.

    Oh, and also... I'd really REALLY like to meet those women "who often say they don't like traditional sci-fi." I can't say I've ever met one!