To Go Where No Man Has Gone Before?
Syfy is an outlet I go to and watch when I want to take my mind off of real life. Since its debut on my cable network as the Sci Fi Channel in 1992, I was hooked. The USA Network (a partnership venture at that time between Universal and Paramount Studios) picked up the new channel, which seemed like the perfect match for my geek needs.
The original programming included classic science-fiction movies and television shows, like Dracula, the Twilight Zone and Star Trek. The two studios had many shows and movies in their vaults collecting dust which the conceptual designers, Mitchell Rubenstein and his wife Laurie Silvers, believed would find a home with a niche group of fans, like myself, who loved science-fiction, monster movies and the bizarre.
Over the last 20 years, Syfy went through many transformations: changes of ownership, modification of programming and most importantly, a new image through branding. Over the next few weeks, I am going to delve deeper into the each of these categories Syfy dealt with in a new blog posting.
In this first blog, I am going to discuss the changes of ownership Syfy went through to become what it is today. In 1989, a communications lawyer named Mitchell Rubenstein decided to start a cable-TV network. He was not a science-fiction fan, nor was his lawyer wife Laurie Silvers. They were all about business and the bottom line. Through their research and his vast amount of connections and business prowess, the network idea was pitched as the Sci Fi Channel, but according to the Orlando Sentinel, many challenges were ahead for the new network become a success:
- Can Rubenstein get cable operators to carry the Sci Fi Channel?
- Can the new Sci Fi Channel get enough advertising support?
- Was there enough Science-fiction movies and shows out there to fill a 24-hour network?
The answer to all these questions was a resounding YES! It took only three years to get the USA Network to buy out the network from Rubenstein and Silvers for 8 million dollars.
I believe that the science-fiction based network was a good idea, and so did millions of other people. Once USA Network starting broadcasting the Sci Fi Channel, it “set out to push the limits of possibility and imagination on television”, according to the current Syfy Channel website, which it did do. Between 1994 and 2004, the ownership of the Sci Fi Channel changed hands several times with a myriad of new owners: Viacom, Seagram’s, MCA, Matsushita, Barry Diller (head of USA Universal at that time), Vivendi Universal, GE’s NBC, and then finally settling with NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation, where it stands today.
Comcast Corporation is a huge company with many holdings and diversities. According to the Comcast Corporate website, “Comcast’s Initial Public Offering (IPO) was on June 29, 1972. On that date 430,000 shares of CMCSA were issued at $7 per share. On November 18, 2002, Comcast and AT&T Broadband combined to form the new Comcast Corporation.”
Today stocks are worth $46.06 per share. Syfy may be a small part of the huge Comcast conglomerate, but I believe that it has helped boost profits for shareholders. Today the NBCUniversal website boats that ‘Syfy is a media destination for imagination-based entertainment. With year-round acclaimed original series, events, blockbuster movies, classic science fiction and fantasy programming, a dynamic Web site (www.Syfy.com), and a portfolio of adjacent businesses (Syfy Ventures), Syfy is a passport to limitless possibilities.
Originally launched in 1992 as SCI FI Channel, and currently in more than 99 million homes, Syfy is a network of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies. (Syfy. Imagine greater.)” And I agree…the network has become a booming success. Next week I will discuss the programming changes within Syfy in order to capture and grow a larger audience.
Until then…live long and prosper, sci-fi geeks!