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 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.

MARCH PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Live Plus Same Day Primetime Ratings Comparison / March 2013 vs. March 2012  (% Change)

HH

M18-49

A25-54

Monday 8-11pm

 -17%

    -25%

   -20%

Tuesday 8-11pm

  43%

     110%

    92%

Wednesday 8-11pm

  -26%

    -41%

     -29%

Thursday 8-11pm

  3%

     -10%

    -8%

Friday 8-11pm

  -4%

    -15%

    -16%

Saturday 8-11pm

 16%

    -8%

   14%

Sunday 8-11pm

 0%

    -7%

   -3%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

  -1%

    -10%

     -5%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

MARCH 2013: Syfy made some small changes to its primetime lineup this March, but it wasn’t enough to bring in new viewers. Average primetime ratings were down by about 10% across the board vs. last month and by 5-10% on demo vs. last year. Each night of the week seems to have its own strategies, program genres and audiences, so the bottom-line average doesn’t really point to what is happening at Syfy….let’s take a night-by-night ratings tour.

Mondays are home to serialized dramas, some original and some acquired. Branded “Powerful Mondays,” the night hasn’t been living up to its name as demo ratings are slightly below the Monday through Sunday average, and down 20% vs. both last year and last month. CONTINUUM, BEING HUMAN and LOST GIRL comprise the line-up, with HUMAN pulling the best ratings, by a small margin. CONTINUUM and LOST GIRL are both acquired series, and have been picked up by Syfy for another season. No official word on BEING HUMAN yet.

Tuesdays are transformation night, as FACE OFF proved to be a transformative program for the net. Once the lowest rated night of the week, Tuesday’s female numbers are now the best of the week, while male numbers are second only to Fridays’ WWE. Ratings for FACE OFF premiere episodes follow the same rank order. The program is also notable for its female skew. This month, new program ROBOT COMBAT LEAGUE followed FACE OFF in the 10PM slot. It features WWE star Chris Jericho hosting tournament-style battles between eight-foot tall robots controlled by a human fighter ("robo-jockey") and an engineer ("robo-tech"). The program’s male appeal isn’t a great fit with FACE OFF, and in fact the encores following Friday night’s WWE actually pull better ratings.

Wednesdays have been paranormal night featuring GHOST HUNTERS even from the days when Syfy was Sci-Fi Channel. This month the fading program went on hiatus, and is scheduled to return with new episodes in April. HAUNTED COLLECTOR took over from 8-10 and reality game show STRANDED filled the 10-11 slot. Neither of the programs popped, and Wednesday nights took some serious hits…down among women 18-49 by 18% vs. last month and 40% vs. last year.

Thursdays typically feature low-rated B-movies, but this month Syfy started running mini-marathons of repeat programming…some of it programming on the schedule (ROBOT COMBAT LEAGUE) and some not (PARANORMAL WITNESS, WAREHOUSE 13). The strategy was inconsistent, but is a good first step away from the B movies, while testing the water with other fare.

WWE FRIDAY NIGHT SMACKDOWN remains a powerhouse, although core men 18-49 ratings for the franchise were off by 14% vs. last year.

Weekends on Syfy hold the long-standing tradition of running a mix of both campy and blockbuster theatricals, plus Syfy Original Movies. But that is about to change. Some cracks have been showing in the once steady performers as weekends get more competitive in the television landscape. This month Syfy ran a three hour block of FACE OFF on one Sunday and AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR on another. Starting Saturday, June 8th acquired series SINBAD and PRIMEVAL: NEW WORLD will join the prime time schedule.

Syfy’s development and acquisition teams continue to be busy. New programs DEEP SOUTH PARANORMAL, DEFIANCE, WEIRD OR WHAT and new seasons of GHOST HUNTERS and WAREHOUSE 13 are all set for spring premieres. Acquisition of HELIX, a scripted syfy series and EXIT, a game show, have been announced as well.

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