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There are a few genres in the television and film world that captivate our imaginations unlike any other. Oftentimes, these genres create cult followings of fans who swear by them over any other type of entertainment. Sure, we all love a good drama or comedy every once in a while, but seldom will you find hundreds of thousands of people who are so obsessed with these more general genres that they dress up or cosplay their favorite characters from, say, Parks and Rec or Arrested Development.
That is not to say that these shows are not massive cultural phenomena in their own right, because they certainly are; but these shows do not speak to a niche demographic to the same extent as shows or movies that fall under the science fiction, horror, or fantasy categories. There is something about these genres that really cause people to embrace them in impassioned and more complex ways.
My guess would be that it has something to do with the merging of the impossible with the real. Sci-Fi and horror, for example, speak to certain elements of the human experience, of the fantastical and unexplainable parts, that other genres do not quite reach. In science fiction, for instance, those of us who are fascinated with considering the future of humanity and what wild technological advancements could suddenly have a tangible link to latch onto between what is and what could be, and this link is made more material through series like Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica. And serving as a conduit between reality and fantasy, these shows produce an unparalleled level of fervor in fans that dramas and comedies (which typically are more firmly rooted in realism) simply do not reach.
Whatever the case may be, the genres of sci-fi, horror, and fantasy are, at the very least, exceptional and endurable. And fans of these genres, of course, need a reliable source for keeping up to date with what’s going on in these worlds.
Typical entertainment news sites are not likely to cover the stories that matter most to sci-fi and horror buffs. This is why it is such a relief that there are at least one major site and cable network devoted to just the stuff that piques our imaginations. And in that very spirit, today, we will be taking a look at the TV channel turned online news resource and streaming site, Syfy.
Believe it or not, Syfy was dreamt up in Boca Raton, Florida of all places. Communications attorney, Mitchell Rubenstein and his wife, Laurie Silvers conceived of the Syfy network while living there in 1989. They’d hoped to have it up and running by December of 1990, but lacked the resources, it turned out, to do so.
However, the husband and wife duo kept at it and by March of 1992, the idea was picked up by USA Networks – then still a partnership between Paramount Pictures and Universal Studios. USA Networks saw the Syfy network as a perfect fit for the classics-oriented programming that they were focusing on at the time, seeing as the two major film studios had the rights to horror and sci-fi classics galore, such as Dracula, Frankenstein, Night Gallery, and Star Trek.
Plus, interestingly enough, the creator of Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry and famed sci-fi author, Isaac Asimov were already a part of the network’s original board of advisors. So, it was the bit of kismet that Syfy needed to finally get off the ground. Finally, in 1992, Syfy aired its first program: Star Wars.
Syfy would exchange corporate hands several times between 1992 and 2020, finally finding what seems to be a more permanent home in 2010 under Comcast’s purchase of NBC Universal – where Syfy lives to this day as both a cable network, HD DirecTV channel and online authority of all things science fiction and horror. To add to their acclaim, Syfy won the James Randi Educational Foundation’s Pigasus Award for “Questionable reality programming involving paranormal activity.”
To be perfectly honest with you, I am a bit torn on how I feel about Syfy’s site design. On the one hand, it looks somewhat loud and hokey (an aesthetic decision which I, personally, tend not to prefer on a website). But on the other hand, that seems fitting for a site and network that has for many years specialized in content that could be classified as, well, loud and hokey.
Many of the films and shows that Syfy caters to are intentionally B-grade and over the top – it is one of the staples shared by both the genres of sci-fi and horror. So, you could argue that it is apt for Syfy.com to mirror its content in that way, even if it isn’t necessarily my thing from a site design perspective.
That being said, personal taste issues aside, the site functions as it should. It is pretty well organized and not too hard to navigate. As soon as you land on Syfy’s home page, you will be greeted with a slew of featured articles – some of which concern themselves with sci-fi classics, others which revolve around exclusive news and content about upcoming or recently released movies and shows. Each article, too, has a convenient grouping of tags next to it, which makes it even easier to work your way through the site based on specific interests.
This is where Syfy began to surprise me (pleasantly). I was happy to see that this site does not only concern itself with science fiction and horror news and shows, but it has so much to offer beyond that as well. In addition to science fiction, visitors can read up on current breakthroughs in real science, too.
I like this aspect of the site because it even further narrows that gap between what could be and what is, offering interesting reads for the science fictionally minded individual who is likely to come here. Plus, oftentimes these actual scientifically rooted articles will be linked to popular sci-fi movies and shows in some way, which just adds to the fun and relatability.
Aside from that, though, Syfy also offers reviews, criticisms, op-eds, and news surrounding any and everything that falls under the sci-fi and horror film and TV umbrella; links to podcasts; video content; and, of course, the ability to stream Syfy original and syndicated content, as well as a live stream of the network’s current programming (granted you have a cable service provider).
Desktop and Mobile Experience
If, like me, the desktop web browser version of the site is not for you, perhaps the Syfy app will be more your speed. It has a much more subdued and professional feel to it, and it is just as easy (if not easier) to navigate on your smartphone or tablet. You can access everything on the app that you can on the site, but, in my opinion, in a much more streamlined and cleanly designed way.
Pricing and Plans
Well, the pricing of getting the most out of Syfy depends entirely on your cable service provider. If you are already paying a monthly bill for a cable service that includes Syfy, then full access to the site, live streaming content, and all available reruns is technically free (you don’t pay anything extra beyond your usual cable bill).
However, if you do not have a cable provider, unfortunately, you won’t be able to watch the majority of the streaming content that Syfy has to offer. You can still read all the articles you want and view Syfy’s short entertainment news clips and the like without having to worry about running into a paywall, but if you wish to view actual full-length content on Syfy, you’ll need to log in with a cable provider account.
Suggestions that I have for Syfy
As I have already complained about, I would like to see Syfy opt for a bit of a cleaner, less jumbled site design (but, again, maybe that’s just me). The larger order suggestion, though, that I have for Syfy would be to offer streaming services of some sort that do not depend entirely on having traditional cable.
Every year, fewer and fewer people are renewing their subscriptions with cable companies in favor of the myriad streaming services that are popping up all over the web. I think Syfy should follow suit and at least offer some sort of streaming service that you can sign up for directly through Syfy.com, cutting the cord and the middleman of the whole enterprise.
All in all, Syfy is bound to be an endlessly reliable resource for any and all fans of science fiction and horror. If you need a site that will keep you in the loop of all things that are happening in your favorite niches, Syfy is the site for you. Plus, if you already have a cable provider, enjoy tons of classic sci-fi and horror content at any time of day or night. You’ll never be bored on this site!