Recently NBC Universal announced that in July the Sci Fi Channel will change its name to Syfy. The reasons:
“Syfy — unlike the generic entertainment category ‘sci-fi’ – firmly establishes a uniquely ownable trademark that is portable across all non-linear digital platforms and beyond, from Hulu to iTunes. Syfy also creates an umbrella brand name that can extend into new adjacent businesses under the Syfy Ventures banner, such as Syfy Games, Syfy Films and Syfy Kids.”
It seems to make sense, in a corporate sort of way. But the founder of the online sci-fi news network Airlock Alpha, which recently rebranded from SyFy Portal, takes great offense that NBC Universal claims it developed the new moniker independently.
Journalist Michael Hinman makes it clear that he sold the brand, through an intermediary, to NBC and that he makes no further claim on it — but he wishes they would come clean about the name’s origins.
“I’m not the kind of person that goes out seeking credit for everything,” Hinman writes. “But for something I actually created, that someone felt valuable enough to name their entire television network after … I think it’s only fair to make sure audiences know the truth of its origin. And if I had just sit back and ignored it, the hundreds of thousands of readers SyFy Portal had over the years would be wondering what’s up, because they’re not stupid at all. They can put two and two together, and realize that this is a name they’ve already been seeing for years. For more than a decade now. It very much exists.”
After thanking all the news outlets that dug deeper than the NBC press release, Hinman goes on:
“What’s completely sad about all of this, is that I have been nothing but an advocate of NBC Universal’s plans to change its network identity. Sure, I am biased because I created the name in the first place, but that’s some strong advocacy to have, wouldn’t you think? Airlock Alpha, and its predecessor SyFy Portal, have always been a strong voice in the fan community, whether people agreed with us or not, and at the very least, we could’ve been spending our energy trying to gain support of the name instead of trying to make it clear that NBCU did not come up with the name.”
What do you think? Is Syfy a better name than Sci Fi? Is it just corporate double-talk? Should Hinman let it go and count his profits, or should NBC give him more than that and give him credit for the creative spelling?