Syfy Channel Analysis - April 2010

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APRIL 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:

* Bold denotes programming change

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

Mondays have shifted to female-skewing GHOST WHISPERER, picked up in syndication, although Syfy has been trying out alternative programming on that night.  Tuesday is a big night in summer, when originals lead into wrestling, but the night has been about encores and syndicated fare throughout the rest of the year.  Wrestling moves to Friday nights in October. Wednesday is a female-skewing night, where the GHOST HUNTERS franchise and female skewing paranormal fare can be found. Thursdays, arguably the least-successful night of the week, are usually, but not always movies. Look for the network to change direction in the summer with the launch of a night of reality programs loosely based on science fiction.  Fridays have shifted from low-rated acquired programs to debut night of original programming and movies. Saturdays and Sundays are all movies, including ORIGINAL MOVIES scattered throughout the weekend.

APRIL 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / April 2010 vs. April 2009  (% Change)

HH

M25-54

F25-54

Monday 8-11pm

-21%

-45%

-25%

Tuesday 8-11pm

-12%

-18%

-11%

Wednesday 8-11pm

-11%

-17%

-16%

Thursday 8-11pm

7%

17%

16%

Friday 8-11pm

-5%

4%

8%

Saturday 8-11pm

-8%

-7%

3%

Sunday 8-11pm

7%

19%

16%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

-7%

-9%

-4%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

APRIL 2010: SYFY's overall ratings were slightly down vs. last year and slightly up vs. last month, with no Monday - Sunday ratings moving more than ten percent in either direction.

On Monday nights Syfy still doesn't seem sure of who it wants to be. Making a switch to low-rated female skewing GHOST WHISPERER from low-rated male skewing STAR TREK mixed up the male/female ratios, but didn't help move the bottom line. This month they tried V: THE SERIES, which pulled in even lower ratings, and then some movies, which actually showed some potential.

Tuesday night is still dominated by WWE NXT, which shows serious decline. It is changing format and night (Fridays) in October. This summer Syfy will join the competitive fray on Tuesday nights when WAREHOUSE 13, the program that launched the infamous name change, returns.

GHOST HUNTERS in repeats pulled down the averages for Wednesday night, hiding the success of DESTINATION TRUTH. The paranormal series finished up its fourth season on April 21st, and according to Syfy, this was DESTINATION TRUTH's best season ever in all key measures, and is up vs. season 2 by +40% in total viewers, +38% in Adults 18-49 and +36% in Adults 25-54. A new season will premiere this fall.

Thursday night was another mix-up, with the night in a holding pattern until the new unscripted block hits the air in July. Syfy tried out one night of a USA-esque movie (Casino Royale), two nights of science fiction movies (Hostel, Serenity, Aliens) and one night of DESTINATION TRUTH repeats. Casino Royale was the best performer, but the others were in a pack that was not too far behind.

Fridays were the night to watch for Syfy's programmers, as STARGATE UNIVERSE and MERLIN debuted. The question is, did the viewers watch too?  This month's season two of MERLIN underperformed last month's season one (which was scheduled in a three-hour block on a Sunday night) by 19% on households and was even on core men 25-54. STARGATE topped last month's performance by impressive numbers; +39% on household ratings, +79% on men 18-49 ratings. The programs helped improve Friday night's numbers over last month and men 25-54 vs. last year, but they both underperform Syfy's Monday - Sunday primetime average.

Syfy's commitment to its original movies is showing, as they seem to find a permanent place among the top rated telecasts. This month's successes were Mega Pirhanha (#3), Riverworld Part 2 (#7) and Mothman (#10).

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:

This was another bridge month for Syfy as it waits to roll out new programming and new strategies in the ssummer. In the mean time, they are trying out new things to see what works. Opportunity lies on Mondays and Fridays.

Syfy's 2010/2011 upfront announcements reveal we will see a lot of familiar fare from the network: GHOST HUNTERS (and company); SCARE TACTICS; DESTINATION TRUTH; STARGATE UNIVERSE; SANCTUARY; WAREHOUSE 13; EUREKA; CAPRICA will all be back.  We will also be seeing another scripted original drama (Stephen King's HAVEN) and a night of reality programming.

Syfy's best growth area since its relaunch has been women, but the network has not yet embraced this newfound audience.

In David Howe's exclusive interview with CableU, he revealed he is looking for a show to hit these points: Relatable/accessible; Characters we care about; World we're Interested In; Fresh; New direction; Longevity; Someone internally has to be passionate about the idea; Could it be a video game? Easy-peasey, right?

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