Syfy Channel Analysis - August 2011



* Bold denotes programming change


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 the past year, with weekend movies remaining the only constant, particularly 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. Mondays are now a marquee night, with EUREKA, WAREHOUSE 13 and ALPHAS headlining the night this summer. Tuesday underperformed with alternate reality and is back to movies for now. On Wednesdays the once powerful GHOST HUNTERS franchise is fading and newer reality programs are moving in. Thursdays went from reality programming to an unpredictable mix of
movies, acquired series and STAR TREK: NEXT GENERATION. WWE SMACKDOWN has revitalized Friday nights, bringing a lot of new male viewers to the net and a solid male lead-in for original series at 10PM.


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




Monday 8-11pm




Tuesday 8-11pm




Wednesday 8-11pm




Thursday 8-11pm




Friday 8-11pm




Saturday 8-11pm




Sunday 8-11pm




MTWTFSS 8-11pm




Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

AUGUST 2011: : It was a good news / bad news month for Syfy as it gained ground on the Monday and Friday flanks while losing good men and women in the middle of the week. The usually stable weekends were where the real casualties occurred, reversing most of the gains. By the end the month it was a stalemate for household and male ratings as their bottom line primetime average showed mild gains and losses. However women took a more serious decline; Syfy lost 9% of its women 18-49 ratings and 18% of its women 25-54.

Starting at the top of the week, Monday is a new flagship night for Syfy. There wasn’t anywhere to go but up after the low rated stacks of GHOST WHISPERER and STAR TREK that used to fill the night.  Even so, the 140% gains on men 18-49 are impressive. Women rallied to the night of originals as well with 40%+ gains vs. last year. The three programs, EUREKA, WAREHOUSE 13 and newcomer ALPHAS produce the best ratings on the net (for households, men and adults) behind wrestling. With Monday night doing so well and EUREKA officially cancelled after next season, it looks like there will be more room on Syfy’s line-up for scripted sci-fi fare.

And there is plenty of space left to fill. Tuesday and Thursday nights are still floundering with a mix of theatricals and encores bringing them in as the lowest rated nights on the net.

Wednesday is paranormal night with GHOST HUNTERS and LEGEND QUEST this month. HAUNTED COLLECTOR aired earlier this year and PARANORMAL WITNESS joined the line-up in September. GHOST HUNTERS is the grand dame of the genre, but it is fading. Season 7.5 launched on 8/24 and underdelivered last August’s launch of season 6.5 by 22% on women 18-49 and 38% on women 25-54. With a 20%+ year over year decline on demos for the night, and an older and more female skewing audience, the paranormal genre was not the star of the summer at Syfy. However, PARANORMAL WITNESS is showing promise, and competitors in the field (PARANORMAL CHALLENGE on Travel, LONG ISLAND MEDIUM on TLC, THE HAUNTED on Animal Planet, PARANORMAL STATE on A&E) keeps the genre relevant. Will all ghost ships levitate with the rising tide?

Fridays brought success to Syfy, as WWE FRIDAY NIGHT SMACKDOWN continues to transform the night. Not only does the wrestling programming bring in droves of younger male viewers, it sets up the 10PM slot for success. Syfy uses the timeperiod to rotate in hour-long dramas. This summer it was the second season of HAVEN, the Stephen King dramedy. Surprisingly, the program is weaker on men than the Monday night fare. Compared to last year its ratings are flat on adults 18-49 and down 13% on adults 25-54. Ratings are down vs. July as well. The program will need to rally to earn a third season.

August was a rare off month for Syfy’s weekend movies. Perhaps the increased presence of movies on Tuesdays and Thursdays watered down viewers’ weekend movie appetite. Maybe the titles strayed too far from traditional sci-fi topics (Saw IV, P2, The Devil’s Advocate). Whatever the case, weekend movies kept down the bottom line average this month.


Two years after its rebranding, Syfy continues to evolve its programming and its audiences. It has explored new genres and retooled nearly every night of the week in an attempt to keep its core sci-fi fans while cultivating and defining the new syfy viewer. The quest has met with some success (scripted dramas) and a lot of failures (personality-based reality), and the quest goes on. The network is planning over 100 hours of original programming for the 2011/12 season. New series run the gamut, spanning genres and formats – dramas, reality, paranormal, competition, and even celebrities.