Syfy Channel Analysis - July 2010

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JULY 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:

* Bold denotes programming change

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

Mondays have shifted to female-skewing GHOST WHISPERER, picked up in syndication, although Syfy has been trying out alternative programming (movies, STAR TREK and WAREHOUSE 13 encores) on that night.  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.  Wrestling moves to Friday nights in October, and Friday's dramas will move to Tuesday. Wednesday is a female-skewing night, where the GHOST HUNTERS franchise and Syfy original female skewing paranormal fare can be found. Thursdays, arguably Syfy's least-successful night of the week, used to be movies. The network changed direction this summer with the launch of a night of reality programs loosely based on science fiction.  Fridays are still debut night of original programming and movies. Saturdays and Sundays are all movies, including the successful ORIGINAL MOVIES premiering every-other Saturday at 9PM.

JULY 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

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

HH

M25-54

F25-54

Monday 8-11pm

-2%

-27%

30%

Tuesday 8-11pm

-25%

-23%

-30%

Wednesday 8-11pm

-23%

-20%

-23%

Thursday 8-11pm

-6%

-6%

7%

Friday 8-11pm

-3%

-15%

-2%

Saturday 8-11pm

-4%

-14%

17%

Sunday 8-11pm

-26%

-25%

-31%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

-14%

-20%

-11%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

July 2010: A huge month for Syfy, as the net marks the one-year anniversary of its new moniker, brings back a couple of signature series (WAREHOUSE 13 and EUREKA), launches a new potential signature series with HAVEN, and drives Thursday night in a completely different direction.

How did all that affect the ratings? It depends how you look at it. Compared to last month Syfy shows growth on every night but Sunday, and a 10% bottom line adult 25-54 bump. Compared to last year, audiences were flat to down every night of the week with a bottom line decline of 15% among adults 25-54. In its recent press releases, Syfy preferred to compare performances to second quarter, which results in a 7% gain. Not so coincidentally, second quarter 2010 was the lowest rated Syfy or Sci Fi quarter on our records.

Starting with Monday nights, Syfy is still playing with the mix. It's hard to tell who the net would like to reach on Monday nights. Not happy to leave female-skewing, male-banishing GHOST WHISPERER alone, blockbuster movies and WAREHOUSE 13 encores were added to Monday night's line-up. This month the alternate fare spiked male numbers (+78% for 18-49s), while women stayed at the same levels as last month. Compared to last year when STAR TREK: NG was the standard fare, women ratings jumped by 30% while men felt a 27% drop. As we said, the net is still trying to fix the mix.

Tuesdays brought the second season premiere of WAREHOUSE 13 on July 6. Syfy's PR department points out it was the channel's most watched telecast of the year, and up 13% in A18-49 viewers over the season one average. It was also the highest rated drama on cable that night, in an ever-growing field which includes TNT's HAWTHRONE and MEMPHIS BEAT, ABC Family's PRETTY LITTLE LIARS, FX's RESCUE ME and even sister network USA's LAW & ORDER CI. However, performance was not as strong as last year's much hyped launch. The July 2010 average performance for WAREHOUSE 13 was about 40% lower than the July 2009 performance. Comparing just the premiere telecasts (eliminating encores from the mix), there is still a 15% to 20% drop.  Nonetheless, WAREHOUSE 13 showed a strong second season launch, and helped relieve Tuesdays from the weak STAR TREK: NG performance, particularly among men. Although its best audience is clearly men 25-54, it was one of the better 18-49 performers on the line-up. The season premiere was the best performing telecast on the net this month among households and adult 25-54 audiences. (Pirates of the Caribbean movie topped the 18-49 list).

Wednesday is GHOST HUNTERS night, but with no new episodes until the end of August, ratings are way off vs. last year. GHOST HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL stepped up to hold off month-to-month declines.

Thursday is the bold new night of programming this July, as reality fare moves in to replace theatricals. First up was MARY KNOWS BEST, which in its first week actually grew demo audience from its GHOST HUNTERS lead-in. However, in the second week numbers crashed - down 60% among 18-49s and down 47% among 25-54s. Which once again shows the importance of looking past the hyped premiere week numbers.

FACT OR FAKED: PARANORMAL FILES was the second reality program to hit Thursday nights, and is more in tune with the typical sci-fi fare as it explores supernatural events. The program performed below the Monday - Sunday average, but it held audience in its second week and delivered 25-54 ratings that were 25% better than June's Thursday night numbers. Syfy has already ordered six more eps. to air in November to help launch HOLLYWOOD TREASURES. With several reality programs on deck, the network is committed to giving reality Thursday nights a go.

In his exclusive interview with CableU, Thomas Vitale, EVP, Programming / Original Movies, said the net is looking for many different types of unscripted shows...as long as they touch on the imagination. Competition and lifestyle are fine; the network just doesn't want to be limited by the typical science fiction aliens and spacemen.

Currently, Fridays are home to original dramas on Syfy. In October wrestling moves to Friday and the dramas move to Tuesday.  But there was still a lot of drama going on this July. MERLIN concluded its second season on July 2nd. According to Syfy, "the finale averaged a 1.3 HH rating, 1.72 million total viewers, 687,000 Adults 18-49 and 938,000 Adults 25-54 based on Live +7 DVR data. Compared to the Friday 10PM time period in 2Q '09, Merlin was up +63% in HH rating, +81% in total viewers, +96% in Adults 18-49 and +95% in Adults 25-54." According to our take on the Nielsen's, MERLIN's finale ranked 21st among the month's top adult 25-54 telecasts. July's three-telecast average delivered ratings below Syfy's monthly primetime average and was level with last month's performance.

July 9 marked the fourth season premiere of EUREKA and the debut of the much talked-about HAVEN (based on the Stephen King novella), Both of those programs had strong runs, with each of their three telecasts hitting July's top ten HH ratings list. EUREKA has already been renewed for a fifth season.

Syfy's movies and original movies both showed strong growth on core demos vs. last year and last month. However, the GREATEST AMERICAN HERO July 4th marathon and the INSIDE THE SECRETS OF GOVERNMENT WAREHOUSES special pulled down the Sunday averages.

After a lack-luster second quarter, Syfy displayed a deep bench of programming this month, not settling for the status quo on any night of the week. The network continues to play with the mix and push boundaries, and is showing some signs of early success.

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:

Syfy continues to evolve, with the "Imagine Greater" tagline working as both network branding and as a call to producers to push the limits on which programming works for the network. This July we saw each of Syfy's three genres step up their game. HAVEN joined the scripted dramas, a new night of reality programming was launched on Thursdays (with mixed success) and SYFY ORIGINAL MOVIES continued to grow ratings.

As Syfy approached its one-year anniversary with its new name, Thomas Vitale, EVP, Programming / Original Movies, sat down with CableU to offer insights into Syfy's branding and programming goals. Syfy continues to try to push its brand and its programming beyond the traditional sci-fi fare. Spacemen and aliens have their place, but they are not what Syfy is about. The entire spectrum of science fiction, from the paranormal to time-travel, alternative futures and alternative history, technology, fantasy, supernatural and technology all have a place on Syfy. Humor, strong characters and concepts that stretch the imagination are trademarks the network is striving for. This holds true across the network's three primary genres - original dramas, unscripted reality and original movies.

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