Syfy Channel Analysis - March 2010

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MARCH 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:

* Bold denotes programming change

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

Mondays have shifted to female-skewing GHOST WHISPERER, picked up in syndication.  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.  Wednesday is a female-skewing night, where the GHOST HUNTERS franchise and female skewing paranormal fare can be found. Thursdays, arguably the least-successful night of the week, are usually, but not always movies, which will change again when wrestling moves to Friday nights in October. Look for the network to change direction in the 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.

MARCH 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

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

HH

M25-54

F25-54

Monday 8-11pm

0%

-33%

65%

Tuesday 8-11pm

-16%

-15%

-14%

Wednesday 8-11pm

4%

-8%

5%

Thursday 8-11pm

23%

7%

87%

Friday 8-11pm

-28%

-41%

-24%

Saturday 8-11pm

-14%

-18%

-10%

Sunday 8-11pm

-14%

-7%

-22%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

-8%

-18%

-0%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

This March Syfy gained back some of the audience it lost in February, but it was not a complete recovery, as the net was not back to the levels it was at in January. As you can see above, Syfy underdelivered men vs. last year, while it held onto women viewers. The female skew of the network grew from 42% last year to 47% this year, which has more to do with attrition of male viewers than with bringing new women in.

The male / female shift is most apparent on Monday nights. GHOST WHISPERER replaced STAR TREK last year and promptly brought in women and drove out men. GHOST WHISPERER is Syfy's second lowest rated program on households. This month, Syfy brought back STAR TREK: NEXT GENERATION on the fourth Monday of the month. The TREK basically tripled GHOST WHISPERER's male ratings while GHOST WHISPERER doubled STAR TREK's female ratings. GHOST WHISPERER's household and adult 25-54 ratings were about 30% lower than STAR TREK's. The choice for Syfy seems simple once the net decides who they would like to target.

STAR TREK: NEXT GENERATION was the lead-in to Tuesday night's WWE NXT. STAR TREK did not do as well on Tuesdays as it did on Mondays. WWE was down more than 20% vs. last month, and Tuesdays were down over 10% across the board vs. last year. WWE and Syfy have decided to move wrestling to Friday nights in the fall.

There is no question that Wednesday is ladies' night at Syfy, where the female skew is at its strongest, accounting for 56% of adult 25-54 impressions. It is also the best rated night of the week for both women and men, by comfortable margins, and the night with the youngest audience. Season six of GHOST HUNTERS premiered on the 3rd, increasing female audience by over 40% and male audiences by 30% vs. last month's repeats. DESTINATION TRUTH began the second half of its third season on St. Patrick's Day with an appropriately themed episode, and managed to build on the GHOST HUNTERS' audience. It was the series' best performance ever. DESTINATION TRUTH concluded its third season on April 21st with Syfy naming it the best-rated season to date, up vs. season 2 by +40% in total viewers, +38% in Adults 18-49 and +36% in Adults 25-54. Note that Syfy does not release numbers for men and women separately. We can tell you that DESTINATION TRUTH, like its GHOST HUNTERS lead-in, has a strong female skew (about 56%). We can also tell you that DESTINATION TRUTH was Syfy's top rated program in March across households and all demos.

Thursday's movies resulted in an underperforming night again for all demos, but women 25-54 showed a lot of growth, with a 75% increase vs. last month and an 87% increase vs. last year. Titles like Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man's Chest and Cold Creek Manor brought in those bigger audiences. With sister network USA scaling back on its primetime movie fare, and the big Universal library of theatricals that is there for the asking, it seems like a lay-up for Syfy to run more movies, particularly those of the blockbuster variety. However, Syfy has plans to turn Thursday nights into a night of reality programs with a sci-fi twist.

Fridays in March brought us new episodes of CAPRICA and repeats of WAREHOUSE 13 on Syfy. This second half of CAPRICA's debut season improved performance over the first half of the season. However, CAPRICA still underperforms the network average.
Weekends continue with movies and original movies. This month's performance underdelivered both last month and last year. Stand out performances were delivered by Syfy originals MERLIN and DynoShark.

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:

March was a bridge month for Syfy as it waits to roll out new programming and new strategies in the spring and the fall. Syfy's 2010/2011 upfront announcements reveal we will see a lot of familiar fare from the network: GHOST HUNTERS (and company); SCARE TACTICS; DESTINATION TRUTH; STARGATE UNIVERSE; SANCTUARY; WAREHOUSE 13; EUREKA; CAPRICA will all be back.  We will also be seeing another scripted original drama (Stephen King's HAVEN) and a night of reality programming.

Syfy's best growth area since its relaunch has been women, but the network has not yet embraced this newfound audience.

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). The Syfy Games banner will feature several casual and Massive Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG), titles, including War of Titans, Terminator Salvation, Rover Racer and Green Mahjong. Network officials claim Syfy.com's gaming area has become the most-trafficked section in terms of page views and time spent on Syfy.com since its inception in 2008.

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