Syfy Channel Analysis - February 2010

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JANUARY 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:

* Bold denotes programming change

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

Mondays have shifted to female-skewing GHOST WHISPERER, picked up in syndication.  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.  Wednesday is a female-skewing night, where the GHOST HUNTERS franchise reigns supreme. 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.

FEBRUARY 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

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

HH

M25-54

F25-54

Monday 8-11pm

16%

-19%

113%

Tuesday 8-11pm

-8%

-10%

0%

Wednesday 8-11pm

-13%

-16%

-20%

Thursday 8-11pm

5%

24%

-11%

Friday 8-11pm

-31%

-44%

-36%

Saturday 8-11pm

3%

6%

27%

Sunday 8-11pm

-15%

9%

-4%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

-9%

-8%

-3%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

Syfy lost some more ground this month, as it lost about 10% of key adult 25-54 ratings vs. both last year and last month. Only one program (EXTREME CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING) showed any ratings gain among adults 25-54 vs. either January 2010 or February 2009. This was a tough month for most of cable, as the Winter Olympics and sweeps programming kicked into gear on the broadcast nets. Syfy was among many networks waiting for spring before launching significant new programming initiatives.

Not to say there was nothing positive or important happening in February. Monday's shift to GHOST WHISPERER continues to drive away some men (-20%) while pulling in more women (+113%) vs. year ago, with a net adult 25-54 ratings increase of 25%.

Tuesday's bottom-line is down, but the shift in WWE from EXTREME CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING to WWE NXT resulted in better than 20% increases among core men 18-49 ratings.  

On Wednesdays, new episodes of GHOST HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL proved the franchise is still strong when there is something new to watch.

Thursday and Friday's repeats and STAR TREK runs end the week with the weakest ratings and the oldest audiences. While the coming shift to a Thursday night of reality programming seems like a stretch, there is nowhere to go but up. New episodes of CAPRICA in its debut season were the best rated effort of the two nights, but the program remains an under-performer on the line-up.

The highlight of the week was on Saturday, where Movies and Syfy Original Movies continue to perform. The month's top three rated telecasts (on households) were two acquired movies (The Land That Time Forgot and The Cursed) and a Syfy Original, Beauty & Beasts, one of a series of retold fairy tales.

Sunday night's classic science-fiction / horror movies also held up, with slight demo growth vs. last month and 10% growth among men vs. last year. In fact, there seems to be a place and inventory for movies on several nights of the week, particularly with sister network USA scaling back on its showings of theatrical fare. Movies consistently pop performance when they are strategically placed, programmed and promoted.

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:

Syfy's 2010/2011 upfront announcements reveal we will see familiar fare from the network: GHOST HUNTERS (and company); SCARE TACTICS; DESTINATION TRUTH; STARGATE UNIVERSE; SANCTUARY; WAREHOUSE 13; EUREKA; CAPRICA will all be back.  There are a few scripted programs in development, but the thrust is on reality. "And now for something completely different," under-performing Thursday nights will become reality night, with loosely based science fiction themes. Another female skewing night will continue to move the gender needle.

Tim Krubsack, VP of alternative programming, said to realscreen "we're finding what really works for us are personality-driven shows. Immersive, first person and strongly based on the talent that is taking you through the journey. A lot of the shows that we're looking to develop from this point forward are really focused around an individual or a team that is doing something extraordinary."

"Extraordinary" is a word that programmers at Syfy seem to like. Unusual, unique, and imaginative are other buzzwords at Syfy.

Another focus at Syfy is the kids and gaming markets, using the Syfy Kids banner, Syfy Games (Game Center), Syfy Media, and Syfy Gear. The net has been busy teaming with top names in the industry to create multiplatform programming and online gaming initiatives. Partners include Worldwide Biggies and THQ (DR. WHAT shorts and de Blob), and Atari (Star Trek Online). The Syfy Games banner will feature several casual and Massive Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG), titles, including War of Titans, Terminator Salvation, Rover Racer and Green Mahjong. Network officials claim Syfy.com's gaming area has become the most-trafficked section in terms of page views and time spent on Syfy.com since its inception in 2008.

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