By Karen Moul
Syfy continues to shake up the schedule and expand beyond its sci-fi roots with new and different programming, and things got very different this month when WWE Friday Night SmackDown premiered on October 1.
While many have had trouble understanding the move, SmackDown could be a shrewd move for Syfy as the network looks to expand into other entertainment platforms, including gaming. SmackDown is a big draw among a critical audience, males aged 18-49. If the existing WWE audience makes its way over to Syfy, the network has the opportunity to engage them in other Syfy programs and grow its overall audience.
It's a good move for WWE too. By joining Syfy, Friday Night SmackDown is now part of the NBC Universal family. That means considerable marketing across NBC platforms which include such properties as USA, Telemundo, the Universal theme parks, and Hulu. Opportunities for cross promotion are almost endless.
So far SmackDown is settling into its new home nicely. The ratings for the past four weeks have been pretty solid and SmackDown continues to be a top five show among males 18-34. It was actually down a bit last week (October 22), but the Major League Baseball playoffs over on TBS have been stiff competition. Nevertheless, SmackDown was the number two cable show among males 18-49, behind the final game of the Yankees-Rangers series. It will be interesting to see what happens after the World Series when viewing habits get back to normal.
Meanwhile, the WWE crew is getting comfortable in their new digs. "We have a whole new audience now with Syfy," says two time women's champion Beth Phoenix, "and I feel like WWE is just as excited to cross over with them as they are to have us cross over." Superstar Cody Rhodes is taking the crossover very seriously - in August he was a guest star on Warehouse 13.
Beth Phoenix and·Kofi Kingston recently met with journalists to discuss life as WWE Superstars. Two of the most engaging performers on the press tour, they discussed everything from diet and exercise to their favorite Syfy shows.
Following on the heels of the success of Syfy's Battlestar Galactica, Caprica, it's spin-off and prequel, first aired in January of this year. The series tells the tale of how the Cylons came to be -- at the hands of humans. The show stars Eric Stoltz as Daniel Graystone and Esai Morales as Joseph Adama. Two fathers who have lost their daughters, one of them who will stop at nothing to bring her back, regardless to the cost to humanity. The series also stars Alessandra Torresani as Zoe Graystone, Magda Apanowicz as Lacy, Polly Walker as Sister Clarice Willow, and Sasha Roiz as Sam Adama.
The second half of the first season of Caprica premiered earlier this month.
Ronald D. Moore and David Eick, executive producers of the series, who will also be producing the upcoming Battlestar Galactica spin-off, Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome, took part in a panel at the digital press conference in Orlando, Florida, to discuss the series and its future.
By Karen Moul
Syfy has partnered with online apparel retailer Her Universe to create a line of women's clothing, jewelry and other items based on Syfy properties. Syfy President Dave Howe announced the partnership this month at the Syfy digital press tour in Orlando. "From a brand perspective, it sends the right messages about what we want to stand for, which is a business that is for everyone with platforms that reach out to everybody. It's very exciting."
Ashley Eckstein, founder of Her Universe, is best known to fans as the voice of Ahsoka Tano on Star Wars: The Clone Wars. She launched the company this summer with the first line of Star Wars apparel designed specifically for women. "In the past," said Eckstein, "a lot of [science fiction-oriented] merchandise was created for women more as an afterthought. They just took an image, slapped it on a pink T-shirt, and said, "Oh, the girls will buy it." And that's not what we want. We want some of the same cool images, just put on a really flattering V-neck."
"Almost half of all Syfy fans are women." she continued, "and they weren't giving us anything to buy."
Currently, Her Universe aspparel is targeted to a broad age range, with sizes ranging from extra small up through plus sizes. "It's definitely not a junior's line. Our items are fashionable and fitted but pretty true to size." She plans several new Star Wars items for Christmas, including a set of Boba Fett underoos.
Syfy gear will be available in 2011 at conventions such as ComicCon. The line will be available in retail outlets in 2012. Plans call for apparel [to] highlight Syfy programs such as Caprica, Battlestar Galactica, Warehouse 13, Destination Truth, and Eureka.
The panel also discussed other aspects of Syfy Ventures, which are available in the previous article. Eckstein answered questions for journalists at the digital press tour, which can be read in the full transcript below. Please also read the press release at Her Universe.
By Karen Moul
At last week’s digital press tour, Syfy executives Dave Howe, Alan Seiffert, and Craig Engler discussed the network’s plans to diversify across multiple entertainment platforms. It’s all part of Syfy Ventures, the network's business development and enterprise unit that focuses on next generation brand extension, including both media and non-media properties.
In a panel with journalists, Howe described the Syfy's plans "to create 24/7 immersive, dynamic storytelling experiences so that we can create transmedia IP characters and stories that can live on any platform, not just the cable linear TV platform." What does that mean to Syfy fans? How about gaming, apparel, and even a new channel for kids?
Syfy’s gaming projects are already well underway, with a close eye on storytelling. “In the gaming space,” said Seiffert, “we've really focused on what possible stories are out there that can really satisfy the needs of our audience but also still offer content in a very unique way. And in a way that is very appropriate for Syfy.”
First up is a two-hour TV movie (and perhaps an eventual series) based on THQ's Red Faction, the popular first-person shooter set on Mars. "Red Faction was a great shoot-'em-up -- it's a really exciting console game,” said Sieffert. “What's unique about it is the movie and hopefully the series will actually live between the last game and the next game. So it becomes part of the overall mythology.”
Down the road, Syfy looks forward to an online browser game based on Battlestar Galactica, which is set to debut in December. Also in the works is a partnership with game developer Trion World to create an online game that would also become a Syfy TV series.
Future plans also call for Syfy to reach out to kids ages 8 to 12 across multiple platforms. "Kids aren't just watching TV," said Seiffert. "They're not just engaging in playing toys. And they're not just online. They're doing all of that. So…we're not going to approach it just as another television show. Absolutely, there will be TV...but there also will be gaming. There will be toys. There will be a pretty massive and exciting online world. The idea is let's bring these stories, let's bring these experiences in a meaningful way across platforms because that's where kids are."
Finally, the executives discussed Syfy's efforts to reach out to female fans through branded apparel, jewelry, and other gear. More information about that is available in the next article.
For more details on Syfy Ventures, read the complete panel transcript below.