JANUARY 2011 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:
* 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. To add to the lack of continuity, the network continues to tinker with the mix each weeknight. Weekend movies remain the only constant, including the successful SYFY ORIGINAL MOVIES premiering every-other Saturday at 9PM.
Mondays have changed yet again this month; GHOST WHISPERER, STAR TREK and SCARE TACTICS were replaced with theatricals and Syfy original movies. The hole left on Tuesday nights when wrestling moved to Fridays was filled with fare from all genres this month: movies, reality and dramas. Wednesday's female skewing GHOST HUNTERS franchise is used to lead in to HOLLYWOOD TREASURE at 10PM. Thursdays used to be movies but the network changed direction this summer with the launch of a night of reality programs loosely based on science fiction, however the older reality program DESTINATION TRUTH currently dominates the night. Fridays have been revived and now start out with wrestling, which leads into a male skewing sci-fi drama.
DECEMBER 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / December 2010 vs. December 2009 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
DECEMBER 2010: The last month of 2010 was one of the higher rated months of the year, but 2010 was not a great year for Syfy. Comparing the total average for 2010 to 2009, Syfy lost 16% of men and 5% of women 25-54. Drop-off between December '10 and '09 was similar; male and female audiences fell by 11%.
This year, Syfy tried out new programming strategies and targeted new demos on most nights of the week. For the most part, GHOST HUNTERS Wednesdays and weekend movies were left alone, but the rest of the week was fair game. However, with the notable exception of WWE's move to Friday nights, there were not many successes to report,
December is usually a top-performing month for Syfy, as special runs of theatricals and the annual New Year's TWILIGHT ZONE marathon bump up ratings. This December brought a branded Countdown to Christmas Week, which ran through December 12 and included holiday-themed episodes of HOLLYWOOD TREASURE, FACT OR FAKED: PARANORMAL FILES, WWE FRIDAY NIGHT SMACKDOWN and the Syfy Saturday Original Movie Ice Quake. This in conjunction with all of the WWE telecasts and standout theatricals The Cave, National Treasure and Narnia helped Syfy boost its December numbers in relation to the rest of the year. However, it was still not a successful month in comparison to previous Decembers.
GHOST HUNTERS proved to be a weight on household ratings, pulling down the bottom line as viewers turned elsewhere. Compared to last year demo ratings were down by 30% across the board. Losses weren't as bad compared to last month, but core women 25-54 ratings were still off by 17%.
Last month Syfy ran 12 encores of HOLLYWOOD TREASURE, overexposing the program and pulling down ratings for both premiere and encore telecasts. This month Syfy ran only premiere telecasts and cut back all encores, significantly boosting average program ratings vs. last month. However, even premiere telecasts continued to lose lead-in audience from GHOST HUNTERS.
Weekends are the powerhouse at Syfy right now, as Friday through Sunday numbers show growth and consistently strong performances. On Fridays, wrestling pulls in big numbers, and has proven to be a good lead-in to the male skewing sci-fi fare the network was built on. Original movies have proven to be so successful, the Syfy Originals production studio is going to try its hand at the big screen, with two theatricals slated for release each year.
Syfy continues to work its schedule, and has a lot of new programs in store for viewers in the winter premiere season. The network is in desperate need of a program that can help rally audiences. Can BEING HUMAN fill the bill?
CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:
Change is the name of the game at Syfy, and audiences seem to be struggling to keep up. With no strip programming to act as a base or a steady foundation, Syfy targets a different audience each night of the week. This strategy covers the gamut, but forces audiences to work at remembering when to tune in, a task that Syfy fans don't seem interested in taking on.
Syfy is starting to let go of its old franchises. The cancellation of STARGATE marks the first time the network will be without a STARGATE series (including STARGATE SG-1 and STARGATE ATLANTIS) since 2002. Will the new fare fill the gap?
Syfy is working to define and find audience for the three different genres of original programming: scripted dramas, reality and movies, not afraid to break the mold and try new formats. However, we see a consistent theme - the programming that sticks closest to traditional sci-fi fare pulls in bigger audiences. This was proven with the network's attempts with reality programming Thursday nights, and also with theatricals.