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Syfy Analysis - Broadcasting & Cable

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. The target audience also changes with different nights of the week, with women being the focus on Mondays and Wednesdays. Most nights have seen dramatic change in the past year, but the schedule has begun to settle down.There is still a lot of room on the schedule for more original programming; there's just the matter of identifying exactly which audience the net wants to target.

Mondays are now a marquee night, with original series headlining in the summer and winter seasons. Tuesday and Thursday underperformed with alternate reality and are back to movies or a mix of acquired series and various encores for now. 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 gives the net the advantage of not forcing audiences to wait a year, and not giving them time to forget the programs they loved, or to get out of the habit of tuning to Syfy on certain nights.

MARCH PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

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

HH

M18-49

A25-54

Monday 8-11pm

 22%

    9%

   18%

Tuesday 8-11pm

 -15%

  -34%

  -23%

Wednesday 8-11pm

 -8%

  -28%

  -12%

Thursday 8-11pm

-22%

  -32%

  -26%

Friday 8-11pm

 -2%

   11%

    -3%

Saturday 8-11pm

 -32%

  -22%

  -31%

Sunday 8-11pm

 -37%

  -32%

  -33%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

 -14%

   -14%

  -16%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

MARCH 2012:  Syfy’s audience was up near the top of the typical Syfy ratings spectrum last month, but the fickle Nielsen pendulum swung again, putting March ratings down near the bottom of Syfy’s rating range. The last time the live primetime ratings were this low was June of 2011. Compared to last month, household and adult 25-54 ratings dipped by 17%. Compared to last year adult ratings were off by 16%. Women fared better than men; their ratings dropped by just 10% or so. What happened to the nice run Syfy was enjoying? It was primarily movies that drove down the bottom-line, but that’s not the whole story. Four of seven nights were hit across the board, and only one night saw solid growth vs. last year.

Monday night was the exception. Scripted dramas BEING HUMAN and LOST GIRL lost some ground vs. February’s performance, but they are holding up the night vs. last year, leading Mondays to solid growth across the demo board, particularly among women.  Monday night’s adult ratings improved by 18% vs. last year, while women 25-54 grew by 36%. BEING HUMAN’s program average, including repeats and premieres, is slightly off vs. last year (-3% for women 25-54). The difference is LOST GIRL this year vs. STARGATE UNIVERSE last year. Not only does LOST GIRL provide better ratings, it is a more cohesive companion to BEING HUMAN from both a content and an audience composition perspective.

Tuesday and Thursday nights are the low-points of the week, where acquired theatricals and various encores fail to draw big audiences. Both nights dropped even more men this month compared to both last month and last year, pulling down the bottom-line and giving a slight female skew to two more nights.

Wednesday night held onto its female audience vs. last year, but lost 30% of its men. Led by the GHOST HUNTERS franchise, Wednesday has long been the highest rated night of the week with women, and it continues to hold that title. However, GHOST HUNTERS is consistently shedding audience. This month the program was in repeats, and GHOST HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL was left to take the lead with a new season, but the spin-off is fading even faster than the original. Average program ratings are down 23% among women 25-54 vs. last month. The night is now led by a rotating cast of competition/reality programs at 10PM. FACE OFF was the star of Wednesday nights in March. It has had strong momentum this year, setting new ratings heights, particularly for its season 2 finale. New competition/reality program MONSTER MAN stepped into the time slot at the end of the month. In its premiere primetime outing, MONSTER MAN was no FACE OFF, but its female comps were strong and give promise for a future on Wednesday nights. At the end of April the newly acquired unscripted competition program TOTAL BLACKOUT will join the mix, and FACE OFF will be back this summer with a new season.

Fridays remain the best-rated night on household and male ratings led by the WWE franchise. Acquired series MERLIN is solid in the lead-out time slot at 10PM. Despite a double-digit decline on core male ratings vs. last month, the program ranks second among men, and continues to top last year’s performance.

The weak part of the Syfy line-up remains the weekend. Acquired theatricals along with a new original movie premiering every other week used to be a solid anchor to the schedule, but now it is pulling the whole network down. Compared to last year, the weekend saw ratings dropping between -22% and -37%, depending on the demo. While original movie premieres can give the weekend nice ratings spikes (as they did last month), the network needs to stop the ratings freefall of acquired theatricals, either with different titles or with a different programming strategy.

While bottom-line ratings were down this month, there were still bright spots to be found. Syfy continues to solidify its strategies, bringing more new programming to viewers than ever this year. Much of the new programming is acquired, but that seems to be working for Syfy as it makes the programming its own, pairing it with original Syfy fare and giving it the Syfy branding.

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