SCI FI (originally The Sci-Fi Channel, sometimes rendered SCI FI Channel) is an American cable television channel, launched on September 24 1992, that specializes in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and paranormal programming. It is part of the entertainment conglomerate NBC Universal.
The channel was seen as a natural fit with classic film and television series that both studios had in their vaults, including Rod Serling's Night Gallery (from Universal TV) and Paramount's Star Trek and classic Universal horror films such as Dracula and Frankenstein. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and author Isaac Asimov were among those on the advisory board.
In 1997, Seagram, which bought MCA in 1995, purchased Viacom's interest in USA and Sci Fi, and sold the networks to Barry Diller in 1998 to form USA Networks, Inc. Diller later sold USA's non-shopping (film and TV) assets, including Sci-Fi, to Universal's then-parent Vivendi Universal in 2002. Vivendi's film, television, and cable TV assets were then merged with General Electric's NBC to form NBC Universal in 2004. A high definition version of the channel launched on October 3 2007 on DIRECTV, on Comcast on April 15 2008, and Dish Network on April 18 2008.
During the weekday daytime hours, Sci Fi channel often schedules 'marathon' style programming, in which several episodes of the same program are shown back-to-back. Various second-run series in the channel's lineup are shown in this system, with varying frequencies. (For example, Stargate SG-1 tends to appear about once every three to four weeks.)
Anime was most frequently aired on Saturday mornings in a roughly two-hour-long block entitled "Saturday Anime". Each week, the network would air a different anime feature in this timeslot. During the late summer, Sci Fi used one week of its weeknight primetime slots to feature an anime theme week.
Although most of Sci Fi's anime programming was composed of feature-length films, a few, such as Dominion Tank Police, were OVAs cut together to fit into the feature timeslot. One regular feature of the Saturday Anime rotation was composed of the first three episodes of the 1990 fantasy OVA series Record of Lodoss War; however, the third episode ends on a cliffhanger and Sci Fi never aired further episodes.
In May 2007, it was announced that anime would be once again returning to Sci Fi Channel. On June 11, Sci Fi aired the first weekly "Ani-Monday" block from 11:00 pm ET to 1:00 am ET, though it ran till 1:30 am for the first airing, because of the length of the feature. The online schedule lists all following features for the rest of June and all of July as going to the standard 1:00 am. Content for the new block is provided by Manga Entertainment.
The first airing of the block was the world premier of the English version of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Solid State Society. Sci Fi Channel's airing was June 11 and the DVD for the movie was released on July 3, 2007.
Any nudity in an anime program is blurred or cropped out by the network censors. This was seen most prevalently in the concert scenes in Macross Plus.
The current anime line-up consists of Gurren Lagann and Now and Then, Here and There, and past aired shows include Macross Plus, Tokko, Virus Buster Serge, Noein, Street Fighter II V, and Tactics. Aired movies include Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Solid State Society, Highlander: The Search for Vengeance, Ghost in the Shell, Karas the Revelation, Blood: The Last Vampire, and Read or Die. Sci Fi also aired anime on Tuesday nights during February 2008.
Gundam 00 will begin airing in November.
In 2004, the channel aired the fantasy miniseries Earthsea, based on Ursula K. Le Guin's series of young-reader novels. Le Guin wrote in the webzine Slate that despite promises by the production company Hallmark Entertainment and the office of executive producer Robert Halmi, Sr. , that "the producers had no understanding of what the books are about and no interest in finding out. All they intended was to use the name Earthsea, and some of the scenes from the books, in a generic McMagic movie with a meaningless plot based on sex and violence." Le Guin noted in particular how her people of color protagonists, who were a dusky skin tone evocative of Native Americans and a conscious alternative to the almost universally white heroes of much fantasy fiction, were cast with white actors except for one, Danny Glover, who is African-American.
The British short series Ultraviolet, which is composed of six one-hour episodes, has been shown on SciFi; it was first shown as a three-part miniseries in the summer of 2001, and later shown in marathon format on multiple occasions.
In the past, the network has also aired films, such as Braveheart which do not contain elements of science-fiction, fantasy, or horror. Also, during Cartoon Quest, the animated series Rambo and the Forces of Freedom, based on the Sylvester Stallone action series about a Vietnam War veteran, aired.
ECW became the most popular program on the network by the summer of 2007. Sci Fi has additionally aired the WWE flagship show Monday Night Raw when the program's usual broadcaster USA Network broadcast the U.S. Open tennis tournament over its usual Monday night timeslot. The show now airs on Sci Fi in High Definition.
SCIFI.COM is the SCI FI Channel's website, launched in 1995 under the name "The Dominion" (which it dropped in 2000). It was one of the first large-scale, publicly available, well-advertised, and non-portal based Web sites. In addition to information on the channel's programming, it covers science fiction in general, primarily through its semi-autonomous Science Fiction Weekly webzine, edited by Scott Edelman, and SciFi Wire newswire.
The site has won a Webby Award and a Flash Forward Award. From 2000–2005, it published original science fiction short stories in a section called SciFiction, edited by Ellen Datlow, who won a 2005 Hugo Award for her work there. The stories themselves won a World Fantasy Award; the first Theodore Sturgeon Award for online fiction (for Lucius Shepard's novella "Over Yonder"), and four of the Science Fiction Writers of America's Nebula Awards, including the first for original online fiction (for Linda Nagata's novella "Goddesses").
SCIFIpedia is a commercial wiki special interest encyclopedia owned by the SCI FI Channel as part of its SCIFI.COM web site. Launched on April 22, 2006, SCIFIpedia's topics include anime, comics, science fiction, fantasy, horror, fandom, games and toys, UFOs, genre-related art and audio, and the paranormal.