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Syfy Channel Analysis - September 2011


* Bold denotes programming change


Syfy programs its line-up differently every night of the week, with no strips or similar fare to carry viewers across the week. Most nights have seen dramatic change in the past year, with weekend movies remaining the only constant, particularly the SYFY ORIGINAL MOVIES premiering every-other Saturday at 9PM.

Mondays have shifted from low-rated GHOST WHISPERER, STAR TREK and SCARE TACTICS to original series. Mondays are now a marquee night, with EUREKA, WAREHOUSE 13 and ALPHAS headlining the night this summer. Tuesday underperformed with alternate reality and is back to movies for now. On Wednesdays the once powerful GHOST HUNTERS franchise is fading and newer paranormal programs are moving in. Thursdays went from reality programming to an unpredictable mix of movies, acquired series and STAR TREK: NEXT GENERATION. WWE SMACKDOWN has revitalized Friday nights, bringing a lot of new male viewers to the net and a solid male lead-in for original series at 10PM.


Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / September 2011 vs. September 2010  (% Change)

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

SEPTEMBER 2011: Syfy was able to boost its bottom line vs. last year, particularly among men. While the average primetime household rating increased by 10%, men 18-49 and men 25-54 ratings grew by an impressive 25%. Women 18-49 basically held while women 25-54 dropped 12%. Overall, it was the newer programming that rallied audiences as old franchises are starting to fade.

Each night of the week has its own unique scheduling strategies, and the result is vastly different ratings night to night. Monday is the new flagship night, where signature original dramas reign. This summer’s triple play of ALPHAS, EUREKA and WAREHOUSE 13 have helped turn the night around from one of the lowest rated to one of the best-rated of the week. The three dramas each hold a healthy male skew, yet hold a respectable female audience.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are floundering as acquired theatricals fail to resonate with the Syfy audience. Time and again we see campy Syfy Original movies outpacing blockbuster movies like Casino Royale, Mad Max, Bourne Utlimatum and Priates of the Caribbean.

Wednesday is the only female-skewing night left on the net, with Syfy’s long-standing paranormal reality programs. GHOST HUNTERS used to be Syfy’s best-rated program across the board, but it has dropped over one-third of its audience from last year. Wednesdays remain the best-rated night of the week for women, even as women 25-54 ratings fell by a full 25% vs. last year.

Wrestling continues to save Friday nights as the franchise brings in droves of younger male viewers and sets up the 10PM slot for success. Syfy uses the timeperiod to rotate in hour-long dramas. This summer it was the second season of HAVEN, the Stephen King dramedy, which was just renewed for a third season. The Tuesday, August 30 WWE SUPERSMACKDOWN LIVE telecast generated the program’s best performance on Syfy to-date, and helped rescue Tuesday’s dismal movie ratings this month. Tuesdays used to be the night Syfy aired wrestling. Is a night shift in the future? Maybe, maybe not, but  another live telecast is coming in November (on a Tuesday).

Saturday is usually a reliably strong night, but has faded throughout the summer. This month’s Syfy Original Movie, Morlocks, brought in above average ratings, but the acquired theatricals brought down the night by about 30% on adult demos.

And so the two solid nights of last year, Wednesday and Saturday, took some of the worst hits this year. Fortunately, Syfy is keeping the line-up fresh as it finds fresh programming, tackles new genres and targets new audiences.

Two years after its rebranding, Syfy continues to evolve its programming and its audiences. It has explored new genres and retooled nearly every night of the week in an attempt to keep its core sci-fi fans while cultivating and defining the new syfy viewer. The quest has met with some success (scripted dramas) and a lot of failures (personality-based reality), and the quest goes on. The network is planning over 100 hours of original programming for the 2011/12 season. New series run the gamut, spanning genres and formats – dramas, reality, paranormal, competition, and even celebrities.