Syfy Channel Analysis - April 2011

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APRIL 2011 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:

* Bold denotes programming change

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. Most nights have seen dramatic change in recent months, with weekend movies remaining the only constant, including the SYFY ORIGINAL MOVIES premiering every-other Saturday at 9PM.

Mondays have shifted from low-rated GHOST WHISPERER, STAR TREK and SCARE TACTICS to original series including BEING HUMAN and STARGATE UNIVERSE. Tuesday has been alternate reality the last two months with iDESTINATION TRUTH and MARCEL'S QUANTUM KITCHEN. On Wednesdays the fading GHOST HUNTERS franchise is being used to launch reality programs (FACT OR FAKED this month).  Thursdays went from reality programming to movies, and are now home to acquired series TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES. WWE SMACKDOWN has revitalized Friday nights, bringing a lot of new male viewers to the net.

APRIL PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / April 2011 vs. April 2010  (% Change)

HH

M25-54

F25-54

Monday 8-11pm

20%

27%

17%

Tuesday 8-11pm

-19%

-31%

20%

Wednesday 8-11pm

-29%

-36%

-42%

Thursday 8-11pm

-4%

6%

-32%

Friday 8-11pm

115%

75%

72%

Saturday 8-11pm

-12%

-38%

-40%

Sunday 8-11pm

-30%

-42%

-46%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

0%

-12%

-21%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

APRIL 2011:  Syfy continues its march forward, exploring new genres, launching new programs, testing new strategies, seeking new companion programs and trying to go where no programmer has gone before. All this to keep its core sci-fi fans while cultivating and defining the new syfy viewer. As if to illustrate the tricky path it is on, Syfy ran the last episodes of cancelled STARGATE UNIVERSE as it unveiled plans for a STAR TREK movie Memorial Day weekend marathon.

On the ratings front, April was not a good month at Syfy. Bottom line numbers were at their lowest levels year-to-date, with demos taking about a 15% fall vs. both last year and last month. The biggest blows came from Syfy stand-bys. GHOST HUNTERS, once the best-rated program on the net, dropped over 40% of its audience since last year. The program remains one of the few Syfy shows with a female skew. The other Syfy stalwart is movies, which have often helped save the bottom line with solid ratings. But both original and acquired theatricals took ratings tumbles this month, and core men 25-54 ratings are down 16% vs. last year.

BEING HUMAN is a Syfy original scripted drama, based on the BBC series of the same name. The program finished up its first season this month, drawing stronger audiences for its final episodes compared to March's performance. The program's original telecasts are strong, but Syfy airs encores each week as well, and the total program average actually falls below the network average. Still, the program has helped flailing Monday nights to double digit growth, and has helped establish the night as an original programming beachhead. BEING HUMAN will return next year for a second season. The cancelled STARGATE UNIVERSE followed at 10PM, losing audience from its BEING HUMAN lead-in, but gaining momentum as the cult series comes to a close.

Tuesdays have been a catch-all for STAR TREK, movies and other miscellaneous fare. This month the schedule was shaped by DESTINATION TRUTH and MARCEL's QUANTUM KITCHEN. MARCEL is an "imagine greater" entree into the syfy reality genre. It is falling near the bottom of the ratings pack, as are old season runs of DESTINATION TRUTH at 8PM. The new episodes (season 4) at 9PM are pulling numbers that are about 50% higher than the 8PM run, but they are still below the Syfy bottom line average. In fact, Tuesdays were the lowest rated night this month.

This month brought the acquired series TERMINATOR: THE SARA CONNOR CHRONICLES to Thursday nights. Thursday nights have seen alternate reality and movies come and go, without too much success.  Thursdays are tied with Sundays as the second lowest rated night of the week, but in a good sign, the program seems to be catching on with core men 25-54, and might just need some time for audiences to find it.

WWE SMACKDOWN continues to lead head and shoulders above all other programs. The third season finale of MERLIN pulled the best numbers of the season. Up next, SANCTUARY resumed its third season on April 15 with its least-watched episode of the season...Syfy decided to pull a switch, and beginning April 25th, SANCTUARY was moved to Monday nights. Monday night's URBAN LEGENDS, the lowest rated program on the line-up, moved to its slot on Friday. And so, in a mad scientist-type experiment, Syfy follows its best-rated program with its worst-rated program.  Stay tuned to see how that works out.

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:

Looking to cultivate new audiences, Syfy started casting a wide programming net peppered with reality, drama, fantasy, wrestling and even traditional sci-fi fare. The efforts continue to face mixed results, and Syfy keeps trying. The network will run four scripted programs in July alone (one new program, three returning), and is working on a total of fourteen new series and events, comprising over 100 hours of original programming for the 2010/11 season.

New series run the gamut, spanning genres and formats - dramas, reality, paranormal, competition, and even celebrities from Lee Majors to Tommy Lee.

The development plans indicate the network will go another year without any strip programming to act as a base or a steady foundation for the rest of the line-up.

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