Syfy Channel Analysis - January 2010

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JANUARY 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:

* Bold denotes programming change

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

The week on Syfy historically started out with a full stack of male-skewing STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION (or another in the franchise) on Mondays, but this is Syfy, not SciFi, and Mondays have shifted to female-skewing GHOST WHISPERER, picked up in syndication. Tuesday is an important night, with originals leading into wrestling.  Wednesday is a female-skewing night, where  the GHOST HUNTERS franchise reigns supreme. Thursdays are usually, but not always movies.  Fridays have shifted from low-rated acquired programs to debut night of original programming. Saturdays and Sundays are all movies, including ORIGINAL MOVIES scattered throughout the weekend.

JANUARY 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

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

HH

M25-54

F25-54

Monday 8-11pm

4%

-38%

29%

Tuesday 8-11pm

15%

-6%

-19%

Wednesday 8-11pm

-6%

-3%

0%

Thursday 8-11pm

-13%

2%

-32%

Friday 8-11pm

-13%

-28%

-7%

Saturday 8-11pm

23%

-18%

40%

Sunday 8-11pm

7%

11%

20%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

-1%

-7%

5%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

January 2010 marked the lowest monthly performance for the network since the July 2009 launch of Syfy. But the big story at Syfy is the slow but steady shift in male / female audiences. Compared to last January, bottom line primetime household ratings remained virtually unchanged, while male ratings dropped about 10% and female ratings increased about 5%. In 2009 men 25-54 were the strongest demo. Since the network's rebrand in July, there has been a steady shift towards women, and this January the male/female split is nearly even. The trick is in attracting more women without pushing away men - not an easy task. Of course, looking at the bottom-line hides what is going on in the nightly trenches. While Monday-Sunday shifts are slight, five of seven nights saw dramatic year over year and month over month changes.

The story on Monday nights continues to be female skewing GHOST WHISPERER vs. male skewing STAR TREK.  When the network swapped these shows they swapped men for women. Household and adult ratings changed by less than 10%, but male and female ratings changed by more than 33%. Either way, Monday consistently ranks in the bottom among households and adults. Of note, last month Syfy tried theatricals and an original (ALICE) on Mondays, with some strong results. With the deep Universal theatrical bench,movies on Mondays seem like a lay-up.

Ending its hiatus from the network, STAR TREK: NEXT GENERATION was back, on Tuesdays this month. After falling last month with the low-rated SCARE TACTICS and short-lived OUTER SPACE ASTRONAUTS, Tuesdays' ratings took another hit in January, while median age rose. At 10PM ECW lost 10% of core male ratings vs. last month and 20% vs. last year. Clearly, help is needed here. In February ECW got a make-over, and became WWE NXT, a new hybrid live event/reality show featuring eight popular WWE Superstars ("Pros") mentoring eight WWE "Rookies," According to Syfy, the Feb 24 debut drew in 51% more adults 18-49 than the year-to-date average. (We have to point out that even with the clear male skew of Tuesday nights and of WWE, Syfy still quotes adult numbers in their PR pieces). An encore of CAPRICA aired the last Tuesday of the month, but it drew even lower ratings than STAR TREK.

Wednesdays are still the most successful night of the week as far as low median age, household ratings and across the board demo ratings go. It's all due to the GHOST HUNTERS franchise, which has become a solid mid-week block on the network. A new season of GHOST HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL helped keep Wednesday's ratings at the top of Syfy's roster and female skewing paranormal fare an integral part of Syfy's strategy.

Thursdays are another male-skewing night, yet each Thursday night was programmed differently in January. The most successful mix was an episode of STAR TREK: NEXT GENERATION leading into a Star Trek movie (First Contact). The least successful night was a three-hour block of STAR TREK ENTERPRISE. Hey, we never said this programming thing was easy. The other efforts on Thursdays were marathons of TWILIGHT ZONE, CHUCK and MASTERS OF HORROR.

On Fridays SANCTUARY finished strong with a two-hour finale that pulled in solid male ratings for the show. CAPRICA, a BATTLE STAR GALACTICA spin-off, premiered the following week and emerged as another slightly above average male-skewing Friday night Syfy program.

But if there was a good story to tell this month, it was hidden on the weekends. Syfy original Meteor Storm was the top rated telecast of the month, House of Bones ranked 8th and Sea Beast ranked 11th. This is a strong showing for originals, and they drove the weekend averages up. In fact, Saturday and Sunday were the only nights to show across the board increases this month. Women 25-54 was the strongest demo for the weekends, with 20% to 40% increases over last year.

And so, we see the biggest success stories of the month centering on women - GHOST HUNTERS and movies. Male-skewing programming had mixed results at best.

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:

So what's around the corner for Syfy? Syfy is embracing its feminine side, devoting an increasing amount of programming to female audiences. With a broader definition of the science fiction genre and a broader target audience, the field has opened up. Even comedy (briefly) made its way to the net (OUTERSPACE ASTRONAUTS).

Network programmers have gone on record that they are looking to program all kinds of reality, Dating, food, makeover, cooking, and dance have all been mentioned, but with a Syfy twist. And what is the Syfy twist? The same as all other programming that resonates anywhere - strong character-based shows.

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).

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