In 2009, the Sci Fi Channel underwent a chancy rebranding to encompass more genres than science fiction, space and monster movies. The new name Syfy was a one-word brand that could extend into new platforms and demographics. Today, nearly five years later, Syfy has incorporated action-adventure, mystery, fantasy, supernatural, paranormal, monster/disaster movies, unscripted reality shows and the WWE with the classic sci-fi genre essentials.
According to Craig Engler, Syfy has also integrated social media marketing and viewer engagement into not just something the brand does, but as a part of the brand itself, as a part of who they are. The results are a broader audience, diverse programming and an expanded brand presence, with Syfy viewed in more than 98 million homes.
The success Syfy is enjoying today didn’t happen overnight. According to Dave Howe during an interview with CoCreate:
“We were very specific about how we positioned it (Syfy), how we communicated and how we made sure our audience didn’t think this was just another excuse to abandon the genre.”
Understanding their audience, the psychographics behind why they are watching, viewer behavior, their consumption of media and the way they can accept imaginative ideas was key to identifying and pinpointing untapped markets.
The genre of science-fiction is largely seen as a geeky-white guy thing, but Syfy research showed that women, Hispanics, African-Americans and the under 21 crowds were just ripe for the picking. Show like Being Human, Face Off and Defiance (a video-game/TV show hybrid) has taken hold of these demographics.
According to an AdWeek report, Nielsen showed that this is the current audience and reach:
- Syfy is in 98 million homes. (Nielsen)
- Syfy is the best place to reach Igniters. (Simmons)
- The gender skew of the channel is 56% male and 44% female. (Nielsen)
- 47% of Syfy’s audience is A25-54; 42% falls into the A18-49 demographic. (Nielsen)
- Syfy’s original programs rank in the Top 10 in their respective timeslots. (Nielsen)
- Among 18-34s, Syfy posted double-digit gains for both men (17%) and women (21%) in Q1 2012 compared to Q1 2011. (Nielsen)
- Syfy has been a Top 10 network for 17 years consecutively. (Nielsen)
In order to capture the essence of Syfy, the slogan “Imagine Greater” was created to identify Syfy as “a media destination for imagination–based entertainment.” Many interactive strategies for communicating and distributing content online emerged on multiplatforms, including:
Syfy Sync– Live two-screen app which uses audio content recognition to allow viewers to access exclusive content at various points in Syfy shows and socialize it instantly
Syfy House of Imagination – Interactive website and film
Syfy Everywhere – which provides viewers exclusives and full episodes of their favorite shows anytime, anywhere from any device, and will soon be released on Xbox.
Syfy Ventures – which serves as the business development and enterprise unit for Syfy with three key goals:
(1) develop immersive trans media experiences
(2) create robust new revenue streams
(3) launch targeted products and services that exemplify its “Imagine Greater” tagline worldwide.
Syfy’s rapidly expanding portfolio includes four major business lines:
- Online & Mobile
- Consumer Products
From these lines emerge five consumer sub-brands:
In order to expand the brand and keep the brand fresh, a smart campaign aptly named “Igniters” was created. Igniters targets artistic, highly imaginative consumers that not only sparks trends but have a say in “driving consumer behavior for new products and brands by sharing it instantly through social media and portable, everywhere access”, stated a Syfy press release, adding that Igniters are very active in social media, in touch with fans and the base of the Syfy audience, and are innovators who can influence others.
It went on to say:
“Through a custom study conducted in partnership with PSFK, Syfy demonstrates how and why this consumer is more powerful today than ever, creating a new marketplace – The Imagination Economy.”
According to Syfy, PSFK and Simmons, Igniters are those who:
- FIND THE NEW: Insatiable need to constantly be in-the-know about the latest and greatest everything.
- DO THE NEXT: Must-have mentality drives them to try, do and buy the next big thing.
- SHOW THE REST: Vocal in telling everyone about their latest finds. Because they’re at the forefront, people listen to what they have to say.
This campaign will not only expand the Syfy brand beyond imagination, but drive the marketplace it created, and I think that’s the idea!
With all this going for Syfy, I believe that viewer engagement, social media activity (Syfy Social provides unique social experiences 52 weeks a year via Facebook, Twitter and other social media) and the creativity of the human mind will keep Syfy, and fans alike, around for generations.
So, let’s make it so!