Open letter to Syfy

Dear SyFy,
I want to address the issue with your channel and it’s recent cancellation issues. I think you have a greater problem. The man behind the re-branding, Dave Howe has possibly caused some revenue growth for the station and that can’t be denied. The write up from NBC says, he has instincts, talents and expertise. That is true for the shows you credit him for. His flaws are just as bad. He he has also branched into another network, Chiller before securing Syfy. He also branched the show into areas that alienate and upset it’s fan base. He brought out popular shows like Eureka and Stargate Universe, only to cancel them before their time. As a matter of fact your station has cancelled two thirds of your original series before their time.

There is various possible arguments as to why these shows were unsuccessful. All of them fall short. Show times and dates have become irrelevant.  Many shows are successful on various days. The time slot is no longer a factor with DVR, etc. The genre is more powerful than ever. Look at the top Box office movies of all time, and you will see nothing but science fiction and fantasy. Look at television and I hope you see that most the top rated shows are unfortunately not what your viewers want. And the shows we do want exist and actually do quite well. Check the ratings and see what is successful! So don’t sell this genre short.

I can’t speak for all the fans out there, but I am willing to accept shows I am not interested in for the sake of the network. I won’t ask you to cancel all the shows I don’t watch. Just stop cancelling the shows I do like. Stargate Universe was brilliant and fresh. It needed time to develop and it was doing just that. The fans would have come to the show if it had been promoted elsewhere. Eureka is smart and fun. It could have mass appeal if people knew it existed.

If cancellation is a must, I would hope that Dave Howe would have the talents to keep his fans by using his empire to keep his fans. There is a publishing end with books and a magazine, a movie division and a website that could offer so much more. Complete the story with published writing or a cartoon. Cross promote your network empire.

Speaking of promotion, this is where Mr. Howe fails. Many shows have advertising and promotion across the board. Get your stars from these shows on NBC shows. Put them on daytime television, guests on talent shows and late night talk shows. If you are going to embrace WWE, have cameos. That market loves cross promotion. You did it with Warehouse 13 and Cody Rhodes, reverse the roles and get cast members from Sanctuary and Warehouse 13 to appear at ringside. Have Zachery Levi appear on Eureka and advertise it during Chuck. Get more people like Felicia Day as well. Popular Internet stars can pull a huge draw. Crossovers are also something I have always loved. I know some of my friends may disagree, but since my early days of comic books, I have enjoyed Wolverine fighting with or against anyone.

Then there is advertising. Get the right companies and advertise to your base. Computer and game companies, technologically advanced cars, etc. Use your knowledge of your fans to sell your ads. Get smaller companies that we want to here from as well. They can’t pay top dollar but they will be ads we care about. Try Wizards of the Coast, comic book companies etc. and watch your fans cheer for ads they love. This also means that you need to be creative with your ads. While I hated the blatant plugs for Subway on Chuck and Sprint’s horrible plugs on Heroes, it can be done subtly. It is also an acceptable evil to keep our fiction we love. I have no problem with Myka’s love of Twizzlers.  Heck, I would have been fine with the crew of Destiny finding a single bottle of Mountain Dew and sharing shots of it with each other to start a flashback episode on what they did before they were stranded in deep space. And the cheap plugs could have been background images when they communicated with Earth.

As for ratings, I have ranted about this before. Stop rating your show by Neilsen, which is flawed, and use the truth to help sell your ads. We do not watch your shows when they air. We watch them online or DVR. Accept it, prove it and sell advertising accordingly! You are Syfy and you should be breaking new ground on how you air and promote your shows that live up to your concept. Find out how to advertise to us. Get a new technology company to put the cool new device they have made in an episode of Eureka, When the people at GD invent it and two weeks later we can buy it in stores….. WOW!

Finally, please keep trying to give us brilliant new shows. There are possibilities for reality television that we would watch. They are not a cooking show or makeup artists. However a late night talk show geared to the geek life like Attack of the Show would do well. Give us animated series based on comics and fiction. Here is a list of writers for you. Stop stealing and copying BBC and others. Instead give us original and most importantly, well written.
We want you to be our station, and you can be successful doing it. See how many of us care at the following links.
Just Imagine Greater!

23 thoughts on “Open letter to Syfy

  1. Problem is all Sy-fy shows are just replays of what they just did, or continuations of a show that, while popular, is gone. I agree Neilson ratings are bumpkiss for cable networks, advertising and coming up with new ideas would be a good start. I’m sure BSG didn’t outstanding ratings, just lots of fans who watched all the time…. why not do a live action Star BLazers, just don’t let the guys who did BSG go anywhere near it, in fact hire some of the asian writers who did the movie, just make it less 2000’s and make it like the original I remember as a kid… but keep the new version of Nova, hottie!

  2. while i agree writing a letter is the right way to go, one wont be enough, when star trek faced cancellation the fans sent millions to nbc, only that many will bring back stargate and other shows

  3. Your article is well-written but I fear that SyFy will ignore it. Here’s the problem. When SyFy re-branded themselves they wanted to have a more mass appeal. That’s when they brought in wrestling and you saw more reality shows and fewer hrad-core SF like Battlestar and Stargate and they’re doing exactly that. Look at all the shows they’ve canceled over the few years – Caprica, Stargate Universe, Stargate Atlantis, and now Eureka. These are all hardcore SF shows (and Eureka among the lot was probably the least-hardcore of them). Look at what they’re keeping – Sanctuary (which I like), Being Human, Warehouse 13, Haven – these are all SF-lite shows or vampire/werewolf/monster shows that are the in-thing right now. They’re basically just following what’s hot right now and in a year or two when space-dramas are back we’ll see more of that on SF.

    The problem with SyFy trying to have a mass appeal is that when they re-named themselves I never saw advertisements for them or their shows on other networks! So they continued to project their new image only to their core audience, an audience, I might add that was already okay with SyFy being a hardcore sci-fi channel. So instead of seeming “cooler” to this audience, they simply pissed them off and turned the network into a joke to that audience. And wrestling? It may give SyFy good numbers, but have those good numbers translated to other shows? How have the ratings of Eureka, Warehouse 13, Stargate, Caprica, Haven all improved as a result of Wrestling? Answer: They haven’t.

    SyFy is having an identity crysis. It started with their acquisition by NBC and is now continuing with Comcast’s merger with NBC and will only get worse because by the time its through the Sci-fi that we all loved and remembered will be long gone and other channels that are testing the sci-fi waters like TNT and BBC will soon hold the hearts of sci-fi fans everywhere.

    If SyFy needs to fix anything its this – fix your PR image. You have a major MAJOR PR problem that’s created a very negative image among your core audience that you seem to like to pretend does not exist. This has happened because when you cancel a show, you always do it in such a way that pissess off your viewers. And you forget that many viewers watch all of the shows you cancel. Not all do, but I know a lot watched Caprica, SGU and Eureka.

    Before you open your mouth, THINK “how will this announcement be perceived among the public?” Caprica – you shouldn’t have pulled those last five episodes when you canceled it. You could have just done a marathon right after you canceled it. Instead you waited for a DVD release and didn’t air them until AFTER the dvd release, forcing fans who wanted to watch them to have to fork out $ for the release, milking them for their dollars, or forcing them to resort to illegal downloading which further hurts the show.

    Stargate SG-1 – you announced their cancellation at the 200th episode party. “Congratulations, you’re canceled!” You should have waited until after or before to announce it. It just makes you seem like a bunch of dicks. Its like a husband going to his wife on their 50th wedding anniversary and saying “I want a divorce.”

    Farscape – you announced to fans at comi-con that it’s going to get renewed only to turn around a few months later and cancel it. If you were going to cancel it, you should have just announced it to begin with!

    Stargate Atlantis – you canceled Stargate Atlantis and the next day announced Universe and wondered why people thought Universe replaced Atlantis?! You should either have A) announced season 6 to be the final season of Atlantis with Universe airing as a lead-out show or B) waited 6 months or so for the official announcement of Universe after the pain of losing Atlantis subsided.

    Stargate Universe – the fans did not find out about cancellation through an official annoucnement, but through TWITTER – many people including myself hate that medium, and that’s how the cast found out too! We all considered that an insult.

    Eureka – you announce a 6-episode season as a possible final season but with the possibility of there being more. The next day you announce that the 6-episode season would be the last. The following day you announce that no, the show was canceled with nothing beyond season 5. Then the following day you announce that there would be a final episode to wrap season 5 up, since even though you initially said fans would “be okay with the last episode of season 5” apparently season 5 ends on a cliffhanger. No fan that I know of would be okay with a cliffhanger ending, even one as poetic as Stargate Universe’s ending.

    The other issue your channel has is a scheduling issue. You constantly shift shows around and sometimes don’t even announce the change. You did this with Sanctuary this year where after the first episode aired you moved it from Fridays to Mondays. Unless you followed on the Internet, people didn’t know and the series saw the lowest ratings it’s ever received as a result. You also like to milk series for all you can by waiting in between seasons. With Caprica you were going to wait almost a YEAR in between HALF-SEASONS! Of course you failed to remember that cast contracts would have to be renewed before then so you moved it up, but not even the cast new when it was one! You pulled this same stunt with Battlestar Galatica and with SGU you waited 6 months. I have never watched a network that had such inconsistent scheduling as SyFy does or moves its shows around as much as you do. Establish a day say “this show will be on X day at X time of the year” and leave it at that. ABC learned with Lost that doing what you constantly do will hurt ratings. As soon as they stopped and just went straight through a season their ratings were better. When you have a show that has a strong character-based arc like SGU or BSG its not a good idea to have long breaks because people will forget about what happened or will loose the excitement they initially had about this.

    There are many more issues that I see SyFy as having, but those are the ones that need to be addressed FIRST.

  4. I have lost all faith in this station. I watched one episode of Alphas and decided not to watch it because it will get cancelled. I am keeping my boycott on and this man has no clue what to truly do but short term. He has turned SyFy into another lifetime network.

    Fans will flock to TnT and USA network now. Goodbye Syfy.

  5. Yeah well while I agree with some of the things in this letter people are ignoring the true reason why Eureka was cancelled.

    It had nothing to do with ratings or being unpopular, it had to do with how expensive it is to maintain and produce and saying that its been cancelled well beyond its time is a load of grade A horse shit! Its been running for when its last season airs it will have been running for five years. That is a remarkable long time for a show to survive on SyFy channel, and lets face it, Eureka, while being a great show can not keep running the same gags over and over again. Is that what fans really want? Do they want a great show to continue on well past its heights until it becomes nothing but a pathetic mess of stupid gags and recycled crap? No, let it end on a high note and at least Eureka will have the chance to be wrapped up properly, unlike some shows I can think of that WERE cancelled well before their time like Stargate Universe.

    Stop bitching about Eureka and focus on the real tradegies caused by this fuck tard David Howe!

    1. Riven, I disagree. Eureka is a smart show with great writing that gives it a strong mass appeal. While you and I prefer a more complex story arc, there are plenty of people who like a show style like Eureka. Look at the success of Friends and Seinfeld. Those shows were completely recycled jokes and stupid gags. We, as science fiction fans need to unite. We need to stop being critics and stand up for the genre. You may like Asimov and think Douglas Adams is a hack. I, on the other hand might like Adams and Terry Pratchett, but don’t want your Asimov garbage on my bookshelves. (I have Asimov on my bookshelves BTW) But, I will never say your Asimov doesn’t belong on the shelf.

      We need to deal with the bigger picture. Defend ALL science fiction shows and condemn the reality cooking shows, and wrestling that has inundated the station. The current list of shows includes, 59 shows. Only six of them are currently new fiction shows. Some of them are cancelled and will soon be reruns like the others. There are twice that many reality style shows. The balance seems off.

  6. The main problem with Nielsen ratings, and almost any TV ratings system, is that the networks(all of them) have skewed them in their favor so that getting an accurate rating for ANY show is impossible. They actually found a way to “hack” the viewers. Think about it, if your network has 9 reality shows but only 1 science fiction show, obviously your channel’s ratings will show that reality shows do well and sci fi doesn’t. That is because for 9 hours of the weekly prime time slots your viewers have no choice but to watch reality programming or go to sleep, and if every other channel has the same options at those times the ratings will show that viewers actually like watching these shows, when in reality(pun intended) they do not. There is no way for the viewing public to express the fact that they had no other alternative, unless millions of Americans stop watching “live” TV altogether. And I’m not even taking into account that most of the time the one good sci fi show on the air is intentionally given the worst time slot of the week or intentionally given a budget too small to produce the show, because network producers feel that the sci fi genre is too risky to invest lots of money or a “prime slot”. For those of you who have no choice but to DVR your favorite program, you get cheated as well, because shows that are recorded and watched later DO NOT SHOW UP ON RATINGS SYSTEMS AT ALL. So, even if a show has 10 million viewers, but they all have to DVR it due to the bad time slot, your ratings are not even registered and the show is reported as having NO VIEWERSHIP. Basically, this all boils down to the fact that reality shows are dirt cheap to produce, and since they don’t use real actors no contracts come into play. The networks are intentionally force feeding the public WHAT THEY WANT YOU TO SEE, rather than cater to your actual desires, in order to make a quick buck. Quantity over quality is the American way nowadays, even in Hollywood. Sorry if this was a lengthy rant, but I wanted to share this info for anyone who wasn’t aware of this actual strategy being used by networks today.

  7. Have decided that the BBC, AMC and TNT do science fiction better than SYFAIL. Loving The Walking Dead and Falling Skies and they are bringing in the ratings. I can only hope they will pick up SGU.

  8. The problem is not so much that they cancel these shows after working so hard to obtain our interest. The problem is that they selfishly stick them on a shelf and horde the concept and patents on these ideas rather than selling them off to someone else to continue the fiction for the established fan base. It is THAT if we can’t make a dollar off this idea nobody will that angers and in fact alienates the fans of the Sci-Fi channel or whatever gross bastardized name they give the channel these days.

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