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No Holiday Break for Syfy

1/16/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

Syfy, hoping to build on its strong 2011
ratings performance, will look to employ a year-round
original programming strategy by bolstering its lineup of
unscripted fare.

The NBCUniversal-owned network is starting off the
year aggressively, looking to build momentum with the
launch of several new and returning series in January, according
to Mark Stern,
president of original
content, Syfy, and cohead
of original content,
Universal Cable
Productions.

“Traditionally, January
has always been
a great opportunity for
us,” Stern said. “[Viewers]
are back from vacation,
so you have eager
viewership — it’s a good
opportunity, much like
the summer for us to
be aggressive because
the broadcast networks
have stepped back, giving
us more room to put
our programming out
there.”

Last week, the network launched the season premieres
of sophomore makeover series Face Off and longstanding
paranormal series Ghost Hunters. This week, it will premiere
its newest scripted series, Lost Girl, a Canadianproduced
show about a young woman who feeds off the
energy of humans. The network secured rights to the first
two seasons of the series, which is now in its third season
on Canada’s Showcase network.

Lost Girl follows the network’s acquisition of fantasythemed
series Merlin from the United Kingdom. New episodes
of that series, which airs on the BBC in the U.K., also
bow this week. Stern said he will continue to look for other
shows that fit the Syfy brand and programming strategy.

“There is a real discerning eye behind our acquisitions
and where it works and feels appropriate for us, we’ll definitely
acquire,” he said. “We tend to not require them to
do as well per se as [original series], but having said that,
they certainly do very well for themselves.”

Lost Girl and Merlin join the network’s scripted-series
lineup which includes such shows as Being Human, which
starts its sophomore campaign next week, as well as Alphas,
Warehouse 13 and Haven, which will begin new seasons
later in the year.

In addition, Syfy will nearly double its amount of unscripted-
series hours in 2012 compared to last year
through the premiere of new series and episode extensions
of existing reality
shows.

“We’re gearing
up for an alwayson
strategy — we’re
really looking at a
year-long strategy
which allows us to
continue to roll out
new material across
the year,” he said.
“What really allows
us to continue
to stretch across the
year is all of the unscripted
programming
we’re doing
now.”

New unscripted
fare set to launch in
first quarter include
Monster Man, a documentary that follows a family of special-
effects makeup artists, and Total Blackout, the network’s
first competition show, one that pits contestants
against each other in complete darkness.

Syfy hopes to build on its record-setting 2011 ratings
performance. It averaged 1.3 million viewers in primetime
last year, up 11% over 2010, on the strength of scripted and
unscripted hits, according to Nielsen fi gures.

Syfy last week bolstered its unscripted-original development
ranks, naming Robyn Lattaker-Johnson, Wayne
Sampson and Colin Whelan as vice presidents of alternative
programming, reporting to Tim Krubsack, senior
vice president of alternative programming. Also added to
the programming department are Tori Socha and Andrew
Whitney, who join as directors, alternative programming.

Lattaker-Johnson, Sampson and Whelan will oversee
Syfy’s current slate of hit reality series, as well as the development
of new unscripted projects, Syfy said.

September