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Syfy Wants To ‘Win Back The Genre’

New original content head Bill McGoldrick talks about channel’s new era


If anyone has noticed a different attitude from Syfy over the past year, it’s probably Bill McGoldrick they would have to thank.

McGoldrick, who took over the original content duties from Mark Stern last year, knows that the face of television has changed with the likes of “Game of Thrones” on HBO, “Breaking Bad” on AMC and “Fargo” on FX. And because television is changing and evolving, so is Syfy.

“This year and next year is going to be Syfy at its finest,” cable channel President Dave Howe told reporters at Monday’s Syfy Digital Press Tour in Orlando. “We have big, bold ambitious scripted series at the level of ‘Battlestar Galactica’ and the miniseries events, and the plethora of announcements that have been going on the last six months thanks to Bill and his team has been incredible.”

The goal, Howe said, is to keep Syfy the experts in the genre.

“It’s a very competitive genre out there, and everyone is doing and launching their own sci-fi and fantasy shows. We have to be seen as the best in understanding of the genre and its audience.”

Syfy is looking to bring the type of writing being found on other cable channels like AMC, FX and HBO to Syfy, and hope to do it with current shows like “Helix” and even new ones like “12 Monkeys,” which premieres in January.

“There has been some misconceptions about this channel in the past that we don’t care as much as (fans) do, and that we cancel shows too early, and that is just not true, and never really has been true,” McGoldrick said. “It’s a passionate group of 170 or so people in every department, and these people love this genre and love the shows.”

Now that Comcast owns NBC Universal — which in turn owns Syfy — the amount of money that might be available for various shows could grow as well.

“Comcast has very deep pockets,” Howe said. “They care about investing in great content, and that is what we are tasked with providing, great content.”

And Syfy is renewing shows. “Defiance” will return for a third season, and other shows like “Helix” are back for Season 2, Howe said. In fact, with the way audiences have changed in recent years, Syfy realized that other programs — like “Battlestar Galactica” — may have been ahead of their time.

“When we had ‘Battlestar Galactica,’ it was difficult to commit to a serialized show,” Howe said. “And now they (the audience) wants what we can provide — great mythologies and great storytelling.”

Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu Plus also have made a big difference when it comes to how audiences watch shows. That has allowed more serialized productions to take place, especially since fans can catch up in easy ways. Syfy worked with that by offering three episodes of “Helix” at once for example, and are looking to continue doing that with other serialized offerings in the coming months.

“You need to hook people, and for these shows, it takes several episodes to get the hang of the characters and stories,” Howe said. “It starts with great characters and great stories.”

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