If science fiction/fantasy is a genre, it’s just about the broadest one there is, says David Howe, president of the Sci Fi Channel.
“We’re far from just about space,” he said. “It’s anything in the realm of the speculative, anything set five minutes into the future or using technology that’s not quite real.”
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Mr. Howe and his channel hardly have the genre to themselves as far as television is concerned.
“This is a genre that people have woken up to,” he said, estimating there are about 12 hours scheduled on the broadcast networks that fit in the Sci Fi mold.
Mr. Howe said that everyone’s interested in this genre as kids, but as talented people grow up, they’re steered into more serious pursuits. But producers increasingly are returning to the genre, and those who are successful are finding ways to make their stories human and relevant, particularly to younger viewers.
“The traditional trappings of sci-fi, which are technology and the future, are less interesting [to viewers]. They’d much rather interact with a story which is an alternative take on the present. It offers them an escape from the everyday and takes them on a journey which is not a million miles from where they are now,” he said.
Under Mr. Howe, Sci Fi is broadening out from being a TV network to a multimedia, multiplatform machine, designing franchises that can be launched simultaneously as programs, games and comics.
“Whoever cracks that nut does have a fantastic business model that is unique and doesn’t exist now,” Mr. Howe said.