'Caprica’ Streams Ahead


Syfy hopes to build momentum for its highly anticipated series Caprica by allowing Web sites to stream the two-hour series pilot in its entirety.

Syfy is providing sci-fi oriented Web sites with video embed codes to offer a stream of the program, network president David Howe said during a media call last week. The pilot is also available at Syfy.com.

Syfy last summer distributed the same pilot of Caprica — a prequel to the network’s popular Battlestar Galactica series — via home video and iTunes, although it did not disclose sales figures for either distribution platform.

“The pilot will be available to anyone who wants to watch it,” Howe said. “We’re very excited about it, because it speaks to what we want to do with Caprica — the anticipation and buzz for the show has been like no other, and I think the more people we can encourage to watch that pilot and then come in for the series, the better we will be.”

Syfy will air a slightly different version of Caprica when the series premieres on the network Jan. 22. “We’ve reshot a few scenes, we’ve added additional elements and upgraded the special effects from the original pilot,” Howe said.

The network will have to manage ratings expectations for the pilot’s premiere on Syfy, said Howe, due to its alternative media exposure, although he would not predict how well Caprica would perform. He did say it should serve well as an introduction to the series.

“It’s the risk that we took when we released it on DVD first and it’s the risk we’re taking now releasing it to be streamed,” he said. “I think in this climate, with the audience we have, it’s absolutely the right thing to do. We have an early adapter, techno-savvy audience that isn’t going to always watch linear, live TV in the same way that other network audiences do.”

The decision to stream the Caprica pilot over the Web comes as the linear channel finishes 2009 with strong ratings. The network, which rebranded as Syfy from Sci Fi Channel this past July, is on track for its best fourth quarter in the ratings in its 17-year history among total viewers, as well as in such key demos as adults 18 to 34 and adults 18 to 49. Its performance was paced by strong showings from reality series Destination Truth, Ghost Hunters and Scare Tactics, according to the network.

Through Dec. 14, NBC Universal-owned Syfy has averaged 1.2 million viewers in 2009, which is flat from the same period in 2008.

In other Syfy news, the network renewed its freshman series Stargate Universe and sophomore series Sanctuary, both of which air during the network’s Friday-night block of original series.

Stargate Universe is the third series in the Stargate franchise to run on Syfy. Sanctuary stars former Stargate SG-1 actress Amanda Tapping and, like, SGU, is filmed in British Columbia.

The new seasons will premiere next fall, Syfy said.