They* laughed. They mocked. The parodied. They called it a non-rebranding rebranding. They said it was the stupidest thing ever. They said it was incredible waste of money. They deliberately mispronounced the spelling of the new name.
All that and more happened a few months back in the wake of NBC Universal announcing its plan to rebrand the SCI FI network as Syfy.
While the rebranding was largely assumed to be so the network name could be trademarked, the network specifically stated that it wanted to make itself more accessible to a wider audience. It wanted more than just the fans of typical science fiction shows.
The early indications are that it's working just like they planned it. Syfy just renewed Warehouse 13 which is the most-watched show in the network’s 17 year history according to Variety, averaging 3.7 million viewers per episode. Though I think that number is using “most current” ratings (a combination of live+7 data where available, plus live+sd data where it isn’t), rather than the commonly reported live+sd (live plus same day DVR viewing), most-watched is most-watched.
More revealing is that unlike most shows on the network, Warehouse 13, the first show launched since the rebranding, is attracting nearly as many women as men.
So far Syfy PR has exercised great restraint. Both in not ragging on all the people who mocked the name change, and in not constantly -- or even yet -- touting the rebranding as a huge success.
While it’s definitely still early, given the results with Warehouse 13 it would be hard to argue that the rebranding isn’t working out exactly according to the script. Though I expect we will see the chest-thumping press release soon enough, perhaps sometimes the best Schadenfreude is just being right.
*Pretty much everyone who ever watched SCI FI and even some who hadn't