Syfy Analysis

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SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

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 and STAR TREK to original series. Mondays are now a marquee night, with original series headlining in the summer and winter seasons. 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.

JANUARY PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / January 2012 vs. January 2011  (% Change)

HH

M18-49

A25-54

Monday 8-11pm

 -5%

 -12%

  -10%

Tuesday 8-11pm

 2%

  0%

   -7%

Wednesday 8-11pm

 5%

  3%

   -2%

Thursday 8-11pm

-11%

  -10%

   -9%

Friday 8-11pm

 7%

  10%

    5%

Saturday 8-11pm

 -12%

  -13%

   -15%

Sunday 8-11pm

 0%

  -18%

  -13%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

 -3%

  -2%

  -9%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

JANUARY 2012:  SYFY went into 2012 with good momentum stemming from strong audiences for both WWE and original movies. New efforts for the new year include the return of last year’s new hit original series BEING HUMAN plus the debut of acquired series LOST GIRL on Mondays, a new season of the grand dame GHOST HUNTERS plus new episodes of FACE-OFF on Wednesdays and the return of BBC series MERLIN on Fridays. Yet while each of these efforts found some success, Syfy’s bottom line numbers did not improve. In fact they were slightly down. Compared to January 2011, the Monday through Sunday primetime average ratings for adults 18-49 were down by 5% while adult 25-54 ratings were down 9%. Declines were similar vs. last month, with adults 18-49 ratings off by 8% and adult 25-54 ratings off by 10%.

For the most part, the ratings declines can be traced to nights where Syfy isn’t paying attention: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. These nights are filled with acquired movies and multiple encores.

Syfy’s self-named “powerful Mondays,” were actually down about 10% on most demos vs. last year. In fact, they underdelivered the primetime average by about 10% on demo and 16% on household ratings. Most of that loss came from lower rated movies and encores. The highlight of Monday night was the return of BEING HUMAN for the start of its second season. The live ratings vs. last year’s premiere were down 5% on the adult 18-49 demo and up just 1% on the adult 25-54 demo. A closer look at premiere episodes reveals there was a drop in women viewers that was matched with a gain in male viewers. The program shifted genders…last year it had a decided female skew, this year the majority of viewers are male. LOST GIRL follows at 10PM, losing both male and female viewers from BEING HUMAN, and coming in at the bottom of the program ratings rankers this month.

Tuesdays and Thursdays remain the lowest rated nights of the week. The highlight of Tuesday was a run of Casino Royale, and the lowpoint was a night of FACE OFF and LOST GIRL encores.

On Wednesday nights, GHOST HUNTERS repeats were relieved with the start of season 8 on January 11th. FACE OFF started off its second season on the same night. The two programs together boosted Wednesday nights by double digits on core women demos. FACE OFF is particularly strong this year, topping all other programs on female demos. GHOST HUNTERS is slightly off its 2011 performance.

Friday nights perform head and shoulders above the rest of the line-up. WWE tops the charts, consistently placing at the top of the telecast ratings rankers with each outing. The franchise shows no signs of slowing down, in fact core men 25-54 ratings were up 10% over last year. WWE also provides a solid lead-in for a male-skewing drama to follow. This month SANCTUARY signed off to so-so numbers and MERLIN stepped in for its fourth season. The male ratings for the BBC-acquired fantasy series spiked vs. last year, up 60% for men 18-49 and 44% for men 25-54.

Saturday and Sunday were off this month, particularly on demo. Campy science fiction is falling down on young male viewers – hardest hit were the annual New Year’s weekend TWILIGHT ZONE marathon (down about 40% for men) and low-rated movies like Meteor Storm, Resident Evil, Ferocious Planet and Jeepers Creepers 2.

The old stalwarts of The Sci Fi Channel are not working for Syfy anymore. GHOST HUNTERS is showing its age, and campy sci fi doesn’t pull in big audiences. Scripted original programming (BEING HUMAN) and competition reality VERY loosely related to science fiction (FACE OFF) are the future of Syfy.

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