Syfy Channel Analysis - May 2010

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MAY 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 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 female skewing paranormal fare can be found. Thursdays, arguably Syfy's least-successful night of the week, are usually, but not always movies. 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.

MAY 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

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

HH

M25-54

F25-54

Monday 8-11pm

-6%

-28%

23%

Tuesday 8-11pm

-13%

-16%

28%

Wednesday 8-11pm

-1%

-9%

4%

Thursday 8-11pm

-25%

-49%

0%

Friday 8-11pm

11%

10%

29%

Saturday 8-11pm

4%

-9%

2%

Sunday 8-11pm

-14%

-17%

-20%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

-6%

-16%

6%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

MAY 2010: Syfy is quickly approaching its one-year anniversary of the Sci Fi to Syfy shuffle of July 2009. The goal of the shift was to enable the network to broaden its programming.  So here we are, ten months into the new branding. What has happened since last May?
- Median age has remained virtually unchanged.
- Household audience is slightly down (-6%).
- Female viewing has increased (+6% W25-54 ratings over May 2009), but male viewing is down (-16% M25-54 ratings) and overall adult ratings are down at -7%. 18-49 demos followed a similar pattern, -18% among men, flat among women and -9% for adults.
- Male / female skew is about 52%/ 48%. In May 2009 it was about 58% / 42%.
- May 2010 ratings are at low levels. Household, adult 18-49 and men 25-54 ratings are at their lowest levels on our records (September 2006).
- Women 25-54, the only growth demo, is at its lowest level since June 2009, just before the relaunch.
- Of the nine regularly scheduled programs in primetime this May, six were on the air last May. (MERLIN, GHOST WHISPERER and STARGATE UNIVERSE are new this year).
So what does this mean? Basically, some women have been brought into the network, but more men are leaving, and the bottom line is down.  Successful new programming has been launched, but with the exception of WAREHOUSE 13, nothing has stood out as a signature series the network can hang its brand on.
The good news is that summer is coming, and Syfy is ready to roll out a new round of programming. Low-rated Thursdays will become a night of reality. WAREHOUSE 13 will be back, and will help launch HAVEN, a science fiction-themed drama based on the Stephen King novella.
With the one-year anniversary of the much-hyped relaunch on July 7, all eyes will be on Syfy's performance this summer. Hopefully viewers' eyes will be on the network as well.

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:

Syfy's 2010/2011 upfront announcements reveal we will continue to 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.

In making the announcement about Syfy's new Thursday night reality strategy, Mark Stern, Executive Vice President, Original Content for Syfy/Co-head, Original Content for Universal Cable Productions, said: "We couldn't be more excited to see these shows move forward. Whether it's pushing the scientific boundaries of cooking, immersing us in first-person accounts of paranormal encounters, or exploring the creative artists behind special effects make-up, each of these series underscores the increasing breadth of Syfy's diverse brand."

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

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; Could it be a video game?

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