Syfy Channel Analysis - February 2011

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FEBRUARY 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 successful 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 BEING HUMAN and WAREHOUSE 13 encores. Tuesday is still trying to figure out what it wants to be - movies, STAR TREK and other miscellaneous fare winds up there. On Wednesdays the fading GHOST HUNTERS franchise is being used to launch reality programs (FACE OFF this quarter).  Thursdays have reverted back from failed reality programming to movies, but starting in April they will house acquired series TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES. WWE SMACKDOWN has revitalized Friday nights, bringing a lot of new male viewers to the net, and Syfy has been able to capitalize by following up with a male skewing sci-fi drama.

FEBRUARY PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

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

HH

M25-54

F25-54

Monday 8-11pm

18%

19%

-9%

Tuesday 8-11pm

-30%

-29%

-10%

Wednesday 8-11pm

-23%

-20%

-33%

Thursday 8-11pm

9%

-27%

56%

Friday 8-11pm

207%

210%

148%

Saturday 8-11pm

-19%

-26%

-37%

Sunday 8-11pm

-9%

-6%

-38%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

8%

4%

-8%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

FEBRUARY 2011:  Looking for broader audiences and a broader identity, Syfy started casting a wide programming net peppered with reality, drama, fantasy, wrestling and even traditional sci-fi fare. The efforts were not paying off in the long-term as audiences steadily eroded, but in recent months Syfy has been steering its way out of the ratings lull. This month was a bit of a setback with a 10% audience drop vs. January, but compared to last year, bottom-line household and male ratings are slightly up.

BEING HUMAN is a standout on Monday nights. The remake of the BBC series is a welcome breath of fresh air for the night, which switched between low-rated female skewing GHOST WHISPERER and low-rated male-skewing STAR TREK: NG for years, The program launched strong in January ("most successful scripted winter series launch since January 2005's BATTLESTAR GALACTICA" - Syfy). but lost 25% to 30% of that audience in February. It now ranks in the middle of Syfy's programming pack. Still, according to Syfy, "since the show's January 17 launch, premiere episodes of Being Human have averaged 1.8 million viewers making it Syfy's most successful winter season scripted series launch in 6 years. Also, with women comprising 53% of the total audience for premiere episodes, it is the channel's most female-skewing scripted series ever." The program has been renewed for a second season.

Tuesdays continue to flounder without the WWE anchor. The night is wide open to something new as STAR TREK: NG acts as a placeholder for now.

Wednesday nights are one of the strongest of the week, yet ratings for the GHOST HUNTERS franchise have been off, and Wednesdays are down by one-third on core women vs. last year. The seventh season of GHOST HUNTERS launched at the end of February, and although ratings are not where they were, they are heading in the right direction. FACE OFF runs at 10PM, and has been deemed a Syfy success with a second season renewal. The program was able to consistently build demo audience from its GHOST HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL lead-in.

Thursday is also wide open for more programming opportunities as it is one of the week's weakest nights. Acquired theatricals ran for three weeks and Syfy Original movies aired the fourth. Interestingly, the Syfy movies were the most solid performers. This is a good sign for the Syfy Originals production studio as it tries its hand at the big screen with two theatricals slated for release each year.

On Friday nights wrestling is saving Syfy's bottom line. Ratings for the night are up over 200% from last year and WWE FRIDAY NIGHT SMACKDOWN is hands down the best rated program across the board. MERLIN is benefiting from the strong lead-in, ranking among the top rated programs.

Capping it all off, the weekend movies had a rare off-month this February as ratings dropped on both nights vs. last year and last month.

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:

It's upfront season and Syfy is in the game, announcing its biggest in-development slate ever. 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.

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 into the new season without any strip programming to act as a base or a steady foundation for the rest of the line-up.

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