Should We Start a SyFy Death Watch?

Will the Network Bow to Public Pointing and Laughing at New Name?

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"According to research done exclusively for BNET Media by TNS Cymfony, syphilis jokes account for about four percent of all commentary about Syfy." Ouch. That's gonna leave a mark. Or an unsightly rash leading to eventual brain damage. BNET's got a fairly comprehensive round-up of the negative reaction to Sci-Fi Channel's decision to rebrand itself as SyFy. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of syphilis jokes flying around the interweb machines.

Indeed, the kindest thing you're likely to find is the question, "Was Arnell involved in this somehow?" What's amazing about this is that in talking to The New York Times, Sci-Fi President David Howe specifically referred to the Tropicana debacle. As BNET puts it, "A day later, you have to wonder who the hell Howe tested the idea with." I want to believe that all the kids are spelling it SyFy to text each other. But I don't.

Normally, I don't put much stock in Web 2.0 outcry and the screams of the Twitterati. As much as I've become a Twitter convert, I know that it's little more than an echo chamber. (If an alien were to base his impression of Earth on Twitter chatter, he'd walk away thinking SXSW was the pinnacle of human achievement rather than Woodstock for geeks.)

But here's the thing about Sci-Fi Channel: I'd bet that a fairly substantial portion of its audience overlaps with the Web 2.0 crowd. This isn't a case of "Motrin Moms" calling for the heads of J&J execs while 99.9% of Motrin users go about their lives blissfully unaware that this supposed scandal ever happened. Sci-Fi fans are likely a little geeky. And while the network wants to broaden its base, it should probably remember to dance with what brung you. As it is, you've got sci-fi blogs such as io9 running with the headline "Sci-Fi Channel Changes Its Name To A Typo" and asking, "Will this tweak really expand the possibilities of a channel that already runs a schedule full of whatever they loosely call science fiction?"

The channel should have been spending the week celebrating the series finale of "Battlestar Galactica," one of the best shows to hit TV in the last 20 years. Instead, it's spending the week being mocked. The good news is that this rebranding was simply an announcement made at an upfront presentation and nothing consumer-facing is set to roll out until July.

So my question to you is: Will the network pull the plug? And if so, when?

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