Bell Media’s Space gets a new look

Broadening audiences brings more earthly look to sci-fi channel

Broadening audiences brings more earthly look to sci-fi channel

Bell Media is bringing sci-fi and fantasy-focused Space TV down to earth with a brand refresh.

Since all the shows on Space’s prime-time schedule actually take place on the third rock from the sun, the idea was to “take this channel called Space out of outer space and make it about the space around you… to capture where the genre has gone,” said Justin Stockman, executive director of marketing, specialty channels at Bell Media. “This idea that sci-fi is people in polyester onesies running around with taser guns, that’s not what the genre is about anymore… It’s a lot more mainstream now.”

While the specialty channel still airs sci-fi favourites like Star Trek and Stargate, it has a slate of Earth-based scripted dramas and reality series with a “phenomenal” twist. New programming includes two new original Canadian scripted series: Orphan Black, a thriller about a woman who discovers she’s been cloned, will debut on March 30; Bitten, which is based on a book series and follows the adventures of a female werewolf, will air in January 2014.

Space reaches an estimated 6.6 million subscriber householders and its top shows have an impressive reach. A new episode of Dr. Who that aired Sept. 15 captivated 575,000 viewers, while in January this year, the Season 5 premiere of Merlin reached an average of 437,00 viewers.

Catherine MacLeod, vice-president, specialty channels at Bell Media, said the rebrand isn’t really about capturing new viewers. “You always want to improve your ratings and broaden your audience base, because that’s just smart programming, but I think we’re actually reacting to an audience base that’s already getting broader without us,” she said.

“If you look at feature films like the Twilight series, people are embracing the notion of the phenomenal in mainstream culture. So we’re kind of tapping into what’s happening already out there.”

Space’s new logo reflects the channel’s more earthly focus, losing the previous galactic swirl in favour of all lowercase letters inside a sphere. In promo spots, the logo is placed on real-life items that relate to specific shows. For example, for Being Human, there’s a blood splatter with the Space logo on it.

“We wanted to focus on tangible, real-life images – not spaceships and galaxies – but always with a little twist that shows this phenomenal factor that all the programming has on the channel,” said Stockman.

The rebrand, which was created in-house by Bell Media Agency, will be promoted by an extensive marketing campaign. Starting Monday and running until the end of March, spots for Space will run on all Bell Media channels, including CTV, Discovery and E. The ads will include general brand spots for the channel as well as promos for Dr. Who and Orphan Black.

An out-of-home campaign includes cinema spots in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto, as well as a full takeover of Toronto’s Yonge and Bloor subway station starting March 18. The campaign materials feature the new tagline, “it’s all around you.”

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