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Syfy Channel: Discussion (take 2)


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#41 OFFLINE   SayWhat?

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 03:06 PM

^^^ How much in the way of Arts and Entertainment are on A&E? As for cartoons, Boomerang still shows the old ones, but I've even seen other stuff there.

Isn't the science fiction audience one of the largest and most active? Aren't the SciFi conventions among the largest of the entertainment related events after adult and comics and gamers?

Edited by SayWhat?, 22 June 2009 - 03:12 PM.

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#42 OFFLINE   Stewart Vernon

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 05:14 PM

That's true... lots of the genre-named channels seem to be straying. Some have completely reinvented themselves (I often remind people that what we know as SpikeTV today began as The Nashville Network!)

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#43 OFFLINE   bicker1

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 05:36 PM

Likely as a reflection of how serving narrow interests is less profitable than serving broader interests.

#44 OFFLINE   mreposter

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 05:43 PM

It's reallt too bad that NBC didn't try to get SciFi to live up to its name. You'd think they would try to score network reruns of SciFI shows (What a concept!). Geez, I go to Spike to see Star Trek. Or HDNET for Enterprise in HD. There's been a run of SciFI type TV shows in the last few years. NBC in general has been lagging in creativity for a while now.


If I remember correctly, Spike paid through the nose for ST:TNG. If they're going to spend that kind of money, I'd much rather see them do something original (Eureka, BSG, Invisible Man, etc) than put on a tired 20 year old series.
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#45 OFFLINE   dcowboy7

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 06:15 PM

It's reallt too bad that NBC didn't try to get SciFi to live up to its name. You'd think they would try to score network reruns of SciFI shows (What a concept!). Geez, I go to Spike to see Star Trek. Or HDNET for Enterprise in HD. There's been a run of SciFI type TV shows in the last few years. NBC in general has been lagging in creativity for a while now.


ST:TNG is on scifi right now.

#46 OFFLINE   Stewart Vernon

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 09:18 PM

Likely as a reflection of how serving narrow interests is less profitable than serving broader interests.


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, and there are more than a few SciFi regular series running it seems these days... so you'd think they could find enough for that channel.

I feel the same about the Cartoon Network. Seems like there ought to be more than enough cartoons to pack the lineup... and a lot of people like cartoons.

Frankly, if the Cartoon Network and SciFi channels are essentially failures because those genres can't support a single channel on that theme... then I don't have hope for any other genre channel.

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.

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#47 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 10:45 PM

Apparently there's never enough professional wrestling on TV.:D

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#48 OFFLINE   SayWhat?

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 11:13 PM

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.


Look at 'Scrubs' and 'That 70's Show'. They're both good shows, but do they really need to be on 4 or 5 different channels?
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#49 OFFLINE   Wisegoat

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 11:37 PM

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, and there are more than a few SciFi regular series running it seems these days... so you'd think they could find enough for that channel.

I feel the same about the Cartoon Network. Seems like there ought to be more than enough cartoons to pack the lineup... and a lot of people like cartoons.

Frankly, if the Cartoon Network and SciFi channels are essentially failures because those genres can't support a single channel on that theme... then I don't have hope for any other genre channel.

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.


Couldn't agree more. With the "Generalization" of channels like Cartoon Network (live action, reality and movies now), DisneyXD (more of the same), G4 (RIP TechTV), Spike TV (Nashville Net for country lovers), the list goes on and on. I want specialty, niche channels. We no longer need these channels that show everything under the sun. That is what network TV is for.

When I want cartoons, I used to go to a channel that said it all: "Cartoon Network". Imagine my surprise when I go there now and see "Nacho Libre", a live action movie with no animation and very little humor, let alone for kids. If I were in to country music and western themed movies and programming, where would I go? The answer is nowhere, because the 1 channel that used to do that is now Spike TV, which shows nothing but reruns like USA network did 25 years ago.

Soon we will be down to 30 channels, all showing the exact same thing. Isn't this why we stopped watching network programming and went to cable, where there were channels for every person and like?

"500 Channels (and nothing much on) was a very ahead of its time song. Looks like we are there now.

#50 OFFLINE   SayWhat?

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 11:52 PM

I still don't get the "SyFy" bit. To me it doesn't rhyme with SciFi, it reads more like "siffey".


When was the last time MTV or VH1 ran anything close to music? You get some on VH1Classic, but not on the main channel.
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#51 OFFLINE   bicker1

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Posted 23 June 2009 - 02:49 AM

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

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.

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.

and there are more than a few SciFi regular series running it seems these days...

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 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.

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.

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.

#52 OFFLINE   SayWhat?

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Posted 23 June 2009 - 03:13 AM

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.

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,


Nope. Science Fantasy maybe or Paranormal, but not Science Fiction in the traditional sense. Calling 'Harry Potter' SciFi would be like calling 'The Neverending Story' SciFi.
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#53 OFFLINE   bicker1

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Posted 23 June 2009 - 03:14 AM

I want specialty, niche channels.

However, it is increasingly seeming that Americans don't. One of the loudest calls, we're hearing, in the cable television space, is the call for a la carte pricing, because people "don't want to pay for channels that they don't watch". Who wins? Channels that lots of people watch, like USA and TNT, and ESPN, and Disney. Who loses? Niche interest channels. Most will go out of business, since they'd have to charge each subscriber upwards of $7-$9 per month to survive. Some might eek by for a while, charging on the high-end of the scale, perhaps $4 per month (which is the most I think the typical consumer will pay, per month, for a channel with commercial breaks in its programming). However, the path to long-term success in an a la carte world is to serve the broadest needs.

So given that (as far as I'm concerned) a purist's "science fiction" channel isn't sustainable in any circumstances, how much effort are you willing to put in to safeguard any focus on science fiction? Because there are forces that are working to confront a la carte, but those that will be successful are those supporting niche interests that can be tied back to specific, minority racial, religious, and/or cultural groups. Their niche interest channels will likely get subsidized, in some way, to support their continued operation -- likely a fee charged to all subscribers regardless of whether or not they select such channels. However, science fiction won't get any such deference. If you don't want science fiction to get discounted any further from where Syfy is going with it, over the next year or two, you'd better have a plan for opposing a la carte. So what's your plan? Eh?

We no longer need these channels that show everything under the sun. That is what network TV is for.

Perhaps not anymore. See above.

Soon we will be down to 30 channels, all showing the exact same thing. Isn't this why we stopped watching network programming and went to cable, where there were channels for every person and like?

Uh, no, not initially. We went to cable, initially, because the antennas didn't transmit far enough to serve the new, burgeoning communities 60, 70, 80 miles from the city. Then, we went to cable because it offered movies, just a few months after they appeared in the theater, complete and uncut. The ascendancy of niche interest channels is relatively recent. Heck, the Sci Fi Channel and Cartoon Network both started only in 1992. And if the a la carte fans have their way, the end of such service offerings is near.

#54 OFFLINE   bicker1

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Posted 23 June 2009 - 03:17 AM

Nope. Science Fantasy maybe or Paranormal, but not Science Fiction in the traditional sense. Calling 'Harry Potter' SciFi would be like calling 'The Neverending Story' SciFi.

Hehe... thanks for proving my point. :goodjob:

#55 OFFLINE   bicker1

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Posted 23 June 2009 - 03:29 AM

When was the last time MTV or VH1 ran anything close to music? You get some on VH1Classic, but not on the main channel.

I never understood the logic of a channel that showed music videos. Music is generally something that you listen to. Watching a band perform their music has very limited appeal, IMHO. So the only music videos that have any real significant value to me are those that are miniature movies.

There have been some notable music videos, such as a-ha's Take On Me, but the economics of the three-minute movie musical are very poor. Online music stores charge about $1.19 for a 3 minute music video. Meanwhile, for a 42 minute video of a USA television program, they charge $1.60. That incongruity reflects the underlying economics of the video medium, and how it simply doesn't support a reasonable volume supply-chain for high-quality music videos.

#56 OFFLINE   SayWhat?

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Posted 23 June 2009 - 03:31 AM

One of the loudest calls, we're hearing, in the cable television space, is the call for a la carte pricing, because people "don't want to pay for channels that they don't watch". Who wins? Channels that lots of people watch, like USA and TNT, and ESPN, and Disney. Who loses? Niche interest channels. Most will go out of business, since they'd have to charge each subscriber upwards of $7-$9 per month to survive. Some might eek by for a while, charging on the high-end of the scale, perhaps $4 per month (which is the most I think the typical consumer will pay, per month, for a channel with commercial breaks in its programming).


I'm a strong advocate of some sort of AlaCarte. I'm highly opposed to having 50 shopping channels for example or 20 ESPN channels, etc. If I could choose, I'd be down to about 30-40 channels total, but at your $4/ea, my bill would more than triple. Not an option.

One method might be packages by owner. If I want A&E, I get all channels owned by whatever company owns A&E. If I want TCM, I get all channels owned by Turner. Same for Disney or Nick. Don't know how the pricing would be there though.
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#57 OFFLINE   SayWhat?

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Posted 23 June 2009 - 03:38 AM

I never understood the logic of a channel that showed music videos. Music is generally something that you listen to. Watching a band perform their music has very limited appeal, IMHO.


I'm looking more at the music shows than just music videos. I never really inderstood music videos themselves, but they are what made MTV in the beginning. It was like FM radio in the beginning, all music, no commercials.

I'm looking more at shows like "Behind the Music", "In Concert" or "Classic Albums" that you see on VH1 Classic, programs with some substance, progams that actually tell you something. MTV is all game shows and garbage like "Jackass"; I don't even have it saved in my channel scan and VH1 is not much better.
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#58 OFFLINE   bicker1

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Posted 23 June 2009 - 03:51 AM

I'm a strong advocate of some sort of AlaCarte.

So how do you reconcile your perspective on a la carte with your desire for servicing of your niche interest?

I'm highly opposed to having 50 shopping channels for example

This is a misunderstanding on your part. You are not paying for any shopping channels. They pay for the privilege of being carried by the service provider. They are practically the only channels that you aren't paying for, now, since even your local broadcast channels are now demanding payment from service provider to carry their signals.

or 20 ESPN channels, etc.

Don't get me started on the sports channels. And if you've been watching the news, you've seen how the NFL and the Big Ten Conference have worked the system to essentially get everyone to subsidize those who care about this niche interest in football. Like it or not, we lost. That battle has been fought and we lost. So all we can do is suck it up, and accept that sports fans have essentially forced us to pay for their fun. And like it or not, even if a la carte ever happens, we can count on the fact that sports fans have far more than enough power to force us to continue subsidizing their channels.

If I could choose, I'd be down to about 30-40 channels total, but at your $4/ea, my bill would more than triple. Not an option.

Do keep in mind that it is very likely that any a la carte system will allow MSOs to continue offering the current packages.

Also note that $4 is the upper-bound. The average channel will probably cost $2 (a likely price for USA and TNT, IMHO), and some will cost $1 (The Weather Channel, some worship-oriented channels with very low cost structures, and channels that show, exclusively, old reruns).

One method might be packages by owner. If I want A&E, I get all channels owned by whatever company owns A&E. If I want TCM, I get all channels owned by Turner. Same for Disney or Nick. Don't know how the pricing would be there though.

That's a scenario that would be likely supported by the big distributors, but it leaves independents out in the cold, so effectively safeguards the big companies at the expense of the small companies. That, alone, is enough to get regulators to prohibit it.

Indeed, it is the opposite of what many a la carte advocates want: Many a la carte advocates recognize that the problem is not what choices your service provider makes available to you (because there are at least three subscription television service providers serving every municipality in the country, now), but rather the problem is that the large content providers engage in non-competitive practices regarding how they offer their content to service providers. This alternative a la carte movement is known as the wholesale a la carte movement (as opposed to "retail" a la carte), and would impose changes that you, as a subscriber, wouldn't necessary see, at least not directly, but instead would prohibit big content providers from requiring service providers from carrying all the content provider's various channels, and prohibit big content providers from requiring service providers to carry one of the content provider's (less popular) channel on a certain tier in order to be able to carry one of the content provider's (more popular) channel on a certain tier. Essentially, it would undercut large content providers' ability to force service providers to carry all the content provider's channels at some low tier of service where practically everyone would have to pay for all of them.

#59 OFFLINE   bicker1

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Posted 23 June 2009 - 03:54 AM

I'm looking more at shows like "Behind the Music", "In Concert" or "Classic Albums" that you see on VH1 Classic, programs with some substance, progams that actually tell you something. MTV is all game shows and garbage like "Jackass"; I don't even have it saved in my channel scan and VH1 is not much better.

If you look at the audience numbers, your interest is much less widely held than the interest in the shows that MTV shows. Sucks, eh?

#60 OFFLINE   dcowboy7

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Posted 23 June 2009 - 11:18 AM

Remember, a lot of people think that the biggest SciFi film of the summer is going to be Harry Potter


Nope....boxofficeguru.com (among other sites) which is a great site for $$ predictions says "Transformers 2" will beat this "Harry Potter".




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