Syfy Channel Analysis - September 2010

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SEPTEMBER 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:

* Bold denotes programming change

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

Syfy programs its line-up differently every night of the week, with no strips or similar fare to carry viewers across the week.

Mondays have shifted to female-skewing GHOST WHISPERER, picked up in syndication, although Syfy has been trying out alternative programming (movies, STAR TREK, encores) on that night.  Tuesday has always been a big night in summer, when originals lpremiere, but the night has been about encores and syndicated fare throughout the rest of the year.  Wrestling moved to Friday nights in October, and Friday's dramas moved to Tuesday, increasing the importance of that night. 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.  (So far, Thursdays continue as the lowest night of the week). Saturdays and Sundays are all movies, including the successful SYFY ORIGINAL MOVIES premiering every-other Saturday at 9PM.

SEPTEMBER 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

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

HH

M25-54

F25-54

Monday 8-11pm

-14%

-9%

-11%

Tuesday 8-11pm

-17%

-29%

-17%

Wednesday 8-11pm

-25%

-41%

-29%

Thursday 8-11pm

-9%

-18%

29%

Friday 8-11pm

-12%

-24%

-8%

Saturday 8-11pm

5%

-13%

6%

Sunday 8-11pm

-3%

-21%

-18%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

-12%

-26%

-13%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

September 2010: Syfy lost one-fifth of its adult audience since last year.  In fact, it took double-digit declines on both household and demo audiences, both male and female. As Syfy defines what it is and who it wants to be, it continues to tinker with most nights of the week.

Mondays shifted to GHOST WHISPERER last year, driving away men and pulling in women, for an even performance on adults. But the program is fading, with a 31% drop on core women 25-54. Syfy has been trying to fix the mix on Mondays, bringing in encores of original series, movies, and even returning STAR TREK to the schedule. This September was back to GHOST WHISPERER with just one week of movies, but audiences are fading fast. As the second lowest rated night of the week, there is a clear opportunity for something new on Monday night.

September marks the last month Syfy will be running wrestling on a Tuesday night. Next month the Tuesday night line-up can be more cohesive, but this month we go from WAREHOUSE 13 to wrestling. WAREHOUSE 13 finished up its second season on September 21 against the broadcast nets' season premieres. According to Syfy, the finale performed 10% above last season's finale, and this season's run was the second most-watched season of an original on Syfy ever, behind season one of WAREHOUSE 13. We see WAREHOUSE 13 and its encores losing over 20% of their adult audience vs. last year. Premiere telecasts were near the top of the Syfy charts this month, behind Syfy original movie Sharktopus and four new episodes of GHOST HUNTERS.

Wednesday was the top-rated night on households, women and adults by a wide margin. But those top-rated episodes of GHOST HUNTERS plus their six encores were down by about one-third vs. last year's run of GHOST HUNTERS. When your top-rated program takes that much of a dive, it's hard to recover.

On Thursdays, Syfy decided to take its lowest rated night of the week of movies and low-rated syndicated fare and turn it into reality-based programming loosely centered on science fiction.  Programs that don't stray too far from the science fiction genre have shown signs of promise. DESTINATION TRUTH and BEAST LEGENDS ran this month, outperforming last year and last month among women, but still coming in near the bottom of the month's program rankings.

EUREKA and HAVEN finished up their seasons on Friday night this month. HAVEN (like WAREHOUSE 13) was given the unfortunate timing of running its finale against the broadcast networks' premiere week. Like WAREHOUSE 13, the finale was lower rated than the previous telecast. However, HAVEN does perform near the top of the programming slate, and has been renewed for a second season, to air in 2011. EUREKA finished the first half of its fourth season on par with its 2009 performance. With half a season still to air, it has been renewed for a fifth season.  Women viewers are the growth demo for both programs.

On the weekends, movies did not sustain their stellar performance of last month, and dropped 14% of adult ratings on Saturday night and 33% on Sunday.  Original movies continue to outpace acquired theatricals with Sharktopus and Mandrake leading the way this September.

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:

Opportunity abounds on Syfy. Each night of the week seems to target a different audience, in an apparent effort to see what will generate audiences. The network is wide open to new ideas and new programming formats.

The  "Imagine Greater" tagline works both as network branding and as a call to producers to push the limits on the programming they bring to the network. 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.

With no strip programming to act as a base or a steady foundation, Syfy seems to target a different audience each night of the week. Mondays and Wednesdays are female, Tuesdays are older males and Thursdays are younger males. Fridays lean male, but are becoming more balanced, and the weekend movies can go either way. This strategy covers the gamut, but forces audiences to work at remembering when to tune in.

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