Sci Fi Channel Performance/Schedule Analysis - September 2009

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PERFORMANCE/SCHEDULE ANALYSIS

(Updated as of September 25, 2009)

CURRENT AND SIGNATURE PROGRAMMING

ECW (SPORTING)
Extreme Championship Wrestling features pro wrestlers in action.
Status: On air. Produced by: Extreme Championship Wrestling

EUREKA (DRAMA)
A newly hired sheriff reports for duty in the small, bucolic Pacific North-west town of Eureka and soon discovers that things are not what they seem.
Status: Season 3.5 premieresJuly 10. Finale September 18. 10x60. Produced by: Universal Media Studios.

GHOST HUNTERS (REALITY)
Series follows a group of paranormal researchers throughout the country as they try to uncover the mystery behind haunted houses.  Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson are plumbers by day and ghost hunters by night.
Status: New episodes of season 5 return August 19 at 9PM. Produced by: Sci-Fi Channel Productions / Pilgrim Films & Television, Inc.

GHOST HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL
(REALITY)
Spin-off of GHOST HUNTERS, this version takes the exploration to Europe.
Status: Season 2 premiered July 8 at 9PM. Produced by: Syfy Productions / Pilgrim Films & Television, Inc.

SYFY ORIGINAL MOVIES (MOVIES)
Original movies by Syfy.
Status: On air. Produced by Sci-Fi Channel Productions.

STAR TREK ENTERPRISE (DRAMA)
Part of the STAR TREK franchise, this series takes place aboard the Enterprise, on which the original series was based, but 10 years prior.
Status: On hiatus this August. Produced by: Paramount Television / Braga Productions / Rick Berman Productions.

STAR TREK: NEXT GENERATION (DRAMA)
Spin-off of the original STAR TREK series, this popular series follows Captain Picard and his crew on their adventures.
Status: On air. Produced by: Paramount Television.

WAREHOUSE 13 (DRAMA)
A drama that centers around Warehouse 13, a storage facility that houses thousands of government artifacts.  After a federal agent and U.S. attorney are banished to the facility after botching a case, they begin to realize that each item in Warehouse 13 has an incredible story of its own.
Status: Premiere July 7. Finale September 22. Produced by: Universal Cable Productions.

AUGUST 2009 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE

TOP PRIMETIME SHOWS:

WAREHOUSE 13, EXTREME CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING, GHOST HUNTERS, GHOST HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL


SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

The week starts out with a full stack of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION on Mondays. Tuesdays are the big ratings night, with WAREHOUSE 13 and EXTREME CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING (ECW) this month.  Wednesday is the only female-skewing night, where GHOST HUNTERS and GHOST HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL usually appear. Thursdays are still a mix - usually, but not always movies.  Fridays have shifted from low-rated acquired programs to debut night of EUREKA plus original programming encores (EUREKA and WAREHOUSE 13 this month). Saturdays and Sundays are all movies, including ORIGINAL MOVIES scattered throughout the weekend.

UPCOMING PREMIERES:

** GHOST HUNTERS returned August 19, 2009, at 9pm (with all new episodes throughout the fall).
** DESTINATION TRUTH season three premieres Wednesday, September 9th @ 9PM
** STARGATE UNIVERSE debuts October 2 @ 9PM-11PM, regular time slot Fridays from 9-10PM.
** SANCTUARY season two premieres Friday, October 9 @ 10PM (13 eps)
** SCARE TACTICS season three returns Tuesday, October 6 @ 9PM

RATINGS ANALYSIS:PROGRAM ACQUISITIONS:

Live Primetime Ratings Comparison:
August 2009 vs. August 2008  (% Change)

HH

M25-54

F25-54

Monday 8-11pm

-46%

-46%

-49%

Tuesday 8-11pm

1%

3%

-7%

Wednesday 8-11pm

1%

19%

9%

Thursday 8-11pm

7%

24%

8%

Friday 8-11pm

35%

32%

41%

Saturday 8-11pm

-13%

-11%

-17%

Sunday 8-11pm

-12%

-17%

-28%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

-6%

-5%

-9%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

All the hype, promotion and programming tricks that helped boost the July numbers for  the Sci Fi to Syfy switch backed off this August, as did the ratings. Compared to last month, men 25-54 ratings were off by 5% and women 25-54 ratings were off by 9%, with only Tuesday and Wednesday nights showing growth. As you can see in the chart above, ratings were also down vs. last year by identical bottom-line percentages, although there are differences in the night-to-night numbers.

But, we can consider both last month, with its name-changing fan-fare, and last year, with the stiff Olympic competition, as anomalies in the ratings spectrum. Looking at the SciFi / Syfy performance for the recent past, we see that numbers started to slip back in December, and have just now come back up to where they were in late 2008.

On Monday nights, STAR TREK: NEXT GENERATION is still losing audience, having peaked when Enterprise was released in theatres this spring. It dropped another 8% of its men 25-54 ratings from last month, and is down a full 23% on that demo from last year.

Tuesdays are the big ratings night on SYFY. WAREHOUSE 13 launched with the network's new name and was a hit out of the box. It consistently tops stiff cable competition, and the premiere telecasts have not lost audience since the debut. The five new telecasts of the program were all in the top 6 ranked programs (on HH ratings). But the program average for this month is 30% or more lower than last month's. How can this be? One word. Encores. This month there were five new episodes and thirteen repeat telecasts of the program, which averages to 2.5 encores per week. Last month there were just two encores and four original episodes. SYFY is walking the line between maximizing ratings and minimizing burn-out. ECW is not benefiting from the success of WAREHOUSE 13, as its core men 25-54 ratings are flat vs. last month and down 11% vs. last year.

Wednesday was the only night we can call an unqualified success, with an 18% gain on adult 25-54 demos vs. last month and +14% vs. last year. GHOST HUNTERS and GHOST HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL are putting out new episodes, and continue to produce strong ratings and the only female skewing night on Syfy.

Thursdays were all movies last month, but this month there was a three-hour block of WAREHOUSE 13 one week and EUREKA another. The encore programming outperformed movies.

Fridays brought a repeat and a new telecast of EUREKA, followed by another repeat of WAREHOUSE 13. EUREKA is strongest among men 25-54, but their ratings are relatively flat vs. July, the premiere month. Compared to last year when the program ran on Tuesdays,  men 25-54 ratings are down 11%.  On average, its demo performance is about 10% lower than WAREHOUSE 13.

Weekends are all about movies on Syfy, so ratings hinge on the movie titles that are selected each month. The SYFY ORIGINAL MOVIES are strong performers, but the generic movie falls below the bottom-line average. The best-rated night of movies was on the 29th, when a repeat of original Malibu Shark Attack was followed by Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus. (This coincided with the real-life shark sightings on Cape Cod).

With a full fall line-up ready to roll, Syfy should continue to produce strong numbers through the rest of the year.

Syfy acquired two direct-to-DVD STARGATE Movies: Ark of Truth and Continuum


PROGRAM RENEWALS:

WAREHOUSE 13 renewed for a 13-episode second season to air summer 2010.

EUREKA renewed for a 22-episode fourth season.

SANCTUARY has started production for a second season.  13 episodes ordered.

DESTINATION TRUTH has been renewed for a third season, set to debut in Fall 2009.

Syfy announced an expansion of both the hit paranormal franchise as well as the Channel's partnership with Craig Piligian's Pilgrim Films and Television.  The multi-part deal includes a sixth season of GHOST HUNTERS, a second season of GHOST HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL and a six-episode order of the recently announced pilot GHOST HUNTERS: NEW GENERATION [working title].  In addition, Pilgrim will develop an entirely new series for the Channel with an eye toward a 2010 premiere.


PROGRAM CANCELLATIONS:

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA,  STARGATE ATLANTIS

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