Programming

SciFiWire.com to Become Standalone News Site

News section of Sci Fi Website to break off, continue focusing on sci-fi, fantasy and horror topics in entertainment. 1/04/2009 06:01:00 PM Eastern

Sci Fi Wire, the news section launched by Sci Fi's main Website in 1997, is now ready to stand apart from the mothership. The new standalone Scifiwire.com site, accessible Jan. 5, will continue to focus on science-fiction, fantasy and horror topics in movies, television, books and elsewhere, appealing to the nearly half-million users who currently access it each week.

The move is the latest step in Sci Fi's strategy of launching standalone sites that it thinks would intersect with the audience of its linear network and Scifi.com. The network spun off gadget blog Dvice.com in November 2007 and launched video-game site Fidget.com last summer.

Courting Prime Viewers

The fans who access Sci Fi Wire are among the most coveted by advertisers. ComScore puts their average age at 36 and income at $83,000 per year.

Along with featuring its preferred arenas of interest, Scifiwire.com will also break with those genres to cover areas in pop culture attractive to the target 18-49 demographic, such as the James Bond films or the DreamWorks animated feature Shrek.

Hoping to capitalize on the hype surrounding the final episodes of Battlestar Galactica, beginning Jan. 16, and the upcoming Battlestar prequel Caprica, coming in 2010, Sci Fi will provide the new site with exclusive video sneak peeks at the series.

“Because we are a part of Sci Fi Channel, we want to leverage and lean on them as much as possible,” says Craig Engler, senior VP of Scifi.com and Sci Fi Magazine.

Sci Fi is also working to secure exclusive content from shows on competing networks, including Fox's Fringe, Dollhouse and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

'Give Them What They Want'

“The people who watch our shows watch everyone's shows, and we want to give them what they want,” Engler says. “Anyone is welcome. We will leverage anyone we can. People who have these shows on other networks want us to cover them as much as we want to.”

Sci Fi is also folding another section of its Website, Science Fiction Weekly, into the new site. Sci Fi Weekly focuses more on features and review content.

“In the past we have been more of a straight news site; that's great, and that is the foundation of what the wire will continue to be, but we have this other area of the site,” Engler says. “So in addition to news, you are getting those really fun features.”

The site will be ad supported, with movie studios and video-game companies expected to be the most popular sponsors, according to Engler.

The network also expects to earn revenue from advertising on a new mobile site that will coincide with the launch, and an iPhone application that will serve as a one-touch gateway to the site.

Sci Fi enjoyed a good 2008 overall, with the linear network drawing its best ratings ever in all the key demographics, including the female demos it had a hard time reaching previously. Sci Fi saw a 12% jump in 2008 among women 25-54 and a 14% jump among women 18-49.

March