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Syfy Analysis


Syfy programs its line-up differently every night of the week, with no strips or similar fare to carry viewers across the week. The schedule is well-rounded – unlike other nets, Syfy does not rely too heavily upon a single program to boost the numbers. Syfy has the resources to use the volume approach to finding the next new hit, pushing a lot of programming through the line-up to see what resonates with audiences.

Most nights have seen dramatic change in the past year, but the schedule has begun to settle down. There is still room on the schedule for more original programming, particularly Thursday and Sunday nights.

Mondays are now a marquee night, with original series headlining nearly all seasons. Tuesdays were the night under construction for the past year, and the night seems to have found its footing with paranormal and competition programming. On Wednesdays the once powerful GHOST HUNTERS franchise is fading and newer reality programs are moving in. WWE SMACKDOWN continues to revitalize Friday nights, bringing a lot of male viewers to the net and a solid male lead-in for original series at 10PM.

In addition to acquiring ready-made series, Syfy has been giving its own series quick renewal orders and short production cycles, allowing popular programs to make a quick return to the schedule. This helps keep viewers in the habit of tuning to Syfy.


Live Plus Same Day Primetime Ratings Comparison / December 2012 vs. December 2011  (% Change)

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

2012: 2012 was a good year for Syfy as the net was able to expand programming into a couple more nights and build bottom-line ratings. It took the volume approach to programming by rotating a large number of programs through primetime, looking to see what would fit.

DECEMBER 2012: This was not Syfy’s best month. Many cablers chose to jump into December with new episodes and holiday specials while the broadcast nets were on hiatus, but Syfy held off on rolling out its strongest stuff. As a result, the net was one of the few CableU 30 Top Networks to lose audience vs. both last year and last month. (see ratings comparison chart here) Compared to November the net lost 20% of its 18-49 ratings and 14% of its 25-54 ratings, with the biggest declines stemming from women. Compared to last year, average primetime losses hovered near 30% across the board; Syfy was not able to build audience on any night on any demo.

As was the case in November, Mondays started the week with movies. Female audiences fell but male audiences grew vs. November with blockbuster titles like Indiana Jones and Pirates of the Caribbean drawing men. The SYFY 20TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL celebrated the network but underperformed the average. Ratings for the night were down on all demos vs. last year when the hit miniseries NEVERLAND aired. “Powerful Mondays” and original programming start up in January.

Movies dominated Tuesdays as well this month, with a focus on Star Trek titles plus two weeks of non-movie programming. One week featured TOTAL BLACKOUT and SCARE TACTICS and another week featured K-9. The formula didn’t work well, Tuesday was the lowest rated night of the week, taking away the non-coveted title from Thursdays. K-9 is a spin-off of the British cult series DOCTOR WHO. Syfy ran the entire 26-episode series in a 13-hour marathon on Christmas Day. While BBC America broke records with its DOCTOR WHO Christmas special, K-9 was the lowest primetime performer on Syfy for the month. Like all cult classics, it needs time to ripen, and possibly a better time-slot than December 25th. TOTAL BLACKOUT and SCARE TACTICS had mixed results, able to build on the movie lead-in, but not able to top movies that aired on other weeks. Nonetheless, Syfy must be pleased with TOTAL BLACKOUT as the extreme gameshow got a renewal and a full-fledged promotional campaign for January.

GHOST HUNTERS continues to set the stage on Wednesday nights. Of the twelve episodes that aired this month, only two were new. The night took some big declines, although core women 25-54 dropped by just 10% vs. last year.

Like Tuesdays this month, Thursday was a night of cult movies, with SYFY ORIGINAL MOVIES and STAR TREK: NEXT GENERATION rounding it out. The night picked up some men vs. last month but dropped audience across the board vs. last year. Overall it was another underperforming night.

Fridays remain the best-rated night of the week, despite the 20% (or so) losses it took on adult demos vs. last year and last month. WWE FRIDAY NIGHT SMACKDOWN dominates household, male and adult ratings on the net, but the franchise showed some signs of weakness this month. HAVEN followed at 10, pulling strong numbers for the last two episodes of the season, particularly with women. It was the only returning program to show growth vs. last year.

For the most part, weekend movies also failed to impress. Saturday, the best-rated night featured SYFY ORIGINAL MOVIES 12 Disasters of Christmas and Snowmageddon, perhaps given a boost by Mayan rumors.

2013: Syfy will continue on its path of putting forth a parade of new programming for its viewers. Thursday nights are still wide open. The net has become at adapting series as its own.