Syfy Channel Analysis - June 2010

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JUNE 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 or STAR TREK) 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. 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, are usually, but not always movies. The network to changed direction ithis 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.

JUNE 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

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

HH

M25-54

F25-54

Monday 8-11pm

-9%

-46%

74%

Tuesday 8-11pm

0%

0%

-19%

Wednesday 8-11pm

-10%

-22%

-5%

Thursday 8-11pm

-18%

-33%

47%

Friday 8-11pm

4%

-5%

32%

Saturday 8-11pm

6%

-25%

26%

Sunday 8-11pm

11%

2%

26%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

-2%

-18%

21%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

Syfy gained back some ground from May's poor performance, increasing household audience by eight percent and adult 25-54 audience by five percent. In the big picture, the network continues to slowly add women as it loses men, netting out at a two percent adult 25-54 ratings loss vs. last year. The male/female skew is now at an even 50/50; last year it was 60/40. Median age remains the same.

One of the biggest drivers of the growing female audience is Monday nights. Monday used to be men's night on Sci-Fi, with STAR TREK ruling the roost. But Syfy prefers to air GHOST WHISPERER, converting the night to a slightly younger (8%) and way more female mix than last year (+112% women 18-49). As is the case with the whole line-up, the bottom-line adult ratings are about the same vs. last year. Syfy has had so much success converting Mondays to girls' night that when The Stand ran on a Monday the audience was predominantly female, but when it ran on a Thursday it skewed male.

Tuesday's line-up of STAR TREK and WWE holds the biggest male skewing audience on the line-up. However, that is all about to change as original series move in this summer and WWE moves to Fridays in the fall.

Wednesday's paranormal fare remains the strongest night for women. New episodes of GHOST HUNTERS ACADEMY topped most of the programming line-up among women and adults, most notably repeats of its mother program, GHOST HUNTERS.

Thursday is another night that is about to undergo drastic change. A fifth night of original programming will be added to Syfy's talking points, as Thursday becomes a night of unscripted fare. Anything goes here, as long as it is loosely based on science fiction. This seems to be the embodiment of the Sci-Fi to Syfy shift.

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 (which might be somewhat hard to do as unscripted reality anyway).

This month Thursday was still all about theatricals, and to help the Syfy / Stephen King alliance and the upcoming premiere of HAVEN, all the movies were Stephen King fare. The best-rated title was STEPHEN KING'S Desperation, which aired on the 10th.

On Fridays, STARGATE UNIVERSE completed its first season on June 11th, while MERLIN completed airing its second season on July 2nd. It has yet to be renewed for a third season. STARGATE UNIVERSE basically held audience vs. last month while MERLIN dropped 10% in ratings, with the most precipitous fall coming after SGU finished its run.

The star of the line-up this month came on the weekends, with Syfy Original movies pulling three of the top five rated telecasts of the month. Stonehenge Apocalypse, Dinocroc vs. Supergator and Phantom Part 2 were the leading movies, and their titles tell you all you need to know about what the network is looking for in its original movies. With 24 new productions each year, the Syfy Originals have been a reliable and steady source of ratings for the net. Again this month, the weekend provides the best male and household ratings of the week.

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:

As Syfy approached its one-year anniversary with its new name, Thomas Vitale sat down with CableU and talked about what the Syfy branding means. 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.

In David Howe's exclusive interview with CableU, he revealed he is looking for a show to hit these points: Relatable/accessible; Characters we care about; World we're Interested In; Fresh; New direction; Longevity; Someone internally has to be passionate about the idea; and something most producers probably wouldn't think of, Could it be a video game?

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