Or is it speculative fiction that does well at the box office. Remember, a lot of people think that the biggest SciFi film of the summer is going to be Harry Potter, while I suspect that most of the folks who are criticizing the name change to Syfy are the type of folks who don't consider Harry Potter SciFi for this purpose.
I'm sure that's true... especially depending upon the specific interest. But some genres you have to wonder. SciFi seems to usually do well at the box office
Again, that's what this issue comes down to: Ghost Hunters, Scare Tactics and Unexplained all fit within the broader definition, just like Harry Potter does, but none of them are truly science fiction, and folks who are interested in such programming many not initially think that they'll find programming they'll enjoy at "The Science Fiction Channel".
Beyond those, Caprica may or may not have some space fiction elements, but if the pilot is any indication, its going to be a character drama, mostly, and they're going to want folks watching Caprica who would never pick up Larry Niven or Poul Anderson.
I'll speculate, myself, here, a bit. I think the hardcore science fiction fans have done the genre a disservice by, during the first 30-40 years of the genre's ascendancy, driving the genre towards what I would consider esoterica. In a way, they insisted on the genre being too real. I feel that the greatest benefits the genre can offer are those that capitalize on the genre's ability to provide escape for people. I think that the hardcore movement basically despoiled the term science fiction. I think that a blatant attempt to make it clear that "this isn't that tedious type of science fiction" can only benefit Syfy. It will help make room for the type of genre fiction that started breaking through in the mid-1980s, with far less, if any, focus on the "science" and far more focus on the "fiction".
Folks may like some parts of the genre and not like others, but they won't admit that that the basis of their criticism is their own personal preferences, since that's so easily pigeon-holed and thereby discounted. I think a lot of the criticisms, therefore, are simply attempts to recast these personal animosities as criticisms that sound more important than they really are.
You mean like Heroes? Again, I wish I could hook the main critics of the Syfy name change up to a polygraph machine and ask them if they think Heroes is what they like best about science fiction. However, even that doesn't matter: The question is more a matter of what Average Joe America will do, since there are more Average Joes than there are science fiction fans.
and there are more than a few SciFi regular series running it seems these days...
And even if the name change doesn't actually help drive that many more people to the channel, it will absolutely be at least a wash (some extremists will bolt; while some folks with some animosity towards science fiction will feel more welcome and will replace the extremists). And then, the only justification needed for the name change is that they can capitalize on the word as a trade-mark. Denying the value of this shows a lack of understanding of the business side of things. Folks are welcome to assert that they don't care about the business side of things, but that are not right in stating that the business shouldn't care about the business side of things.
Actually, we very well may. As people engage in more and more commercial avoidance (and piracy, for that matter), the value of viewership, itself, plummets. How do you make up for that lost revenue stream? Perhaps the answer is pay television. Why are cable channels, like USA and TNT, going so well in recent years? It is a combination of how much better original programming is being presented by these channels. This fall, the CW is giving the five hours of its Sunday schedule back to their affiliates, and NBC is giving five hours of prime time to Jay Leno. Do you really think that that's going to be the end of that trend? Gosh, if you do, I admire your optimism! Instead, I see a path towards more and more non-scripted programming on television that is solely supported by commercial advertising. Meanwhile, television that is supported by both commercial advertising and by subscription fees, like TNT and USA, hold the promise of eventually providing a stronger financial footing for scripted programming. It could happen. And if it does, we'll need at least four, but preferable five or six channels, just like TNT and USA.
So at some point we end up with 20 USA/TNT type channels... and I don't think we need that many duplicating the same content.