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on Oct 23, 2009 at 5:47:25 pm
I'm going to make some specific observations to speak to the general observation: the demographics are changing faster than you're watching. There's no hand biting here. Money talks.
It's not just greed talking, either. Audiences grow when they get what they want.
"racing each other towards mediocrity in pursuit of market share"
Market share is bad? This is a business forum for criminy's sake. I would think that you guys would understand business better.
So let's talk business. If you're selling something with your name on it, you better have the rights to that name. There is no combination of Sci and Fi and Science and Fiction that they were able to trademark. No legal name with ANY of those things in it. There's not enough money to make that problem go away. Enter Plan B. A goofy name that sounds the same, and can be protected.
And I will say as a company whose trademark has been a big part of how people feel about it, it's worth getting this right.
You may not like the new branding, but the money has spoken: Q3 09 was the channel's
best quarter ever
. (Do you people not read?)
I'm also not sure why you guys are complaining about the lack of science fiction programming on the channel. We can have that conversation another time, but Warehouse 13 and Stargate Universe have been setting records. The latter is outdrawing sci-fi god Joss Whedon's Dollhouse on Fox - that's right, science fiction on SyFy is beating science fiction on Fox in the same timeslot. But the premiere of SGU brought the highest ratings since BSG's premiere in 2005.
(Note that the show BEGAN in 2004. It only started airing on Sci-Fi in 2005.)
Whether you guys like it is beside the point. Eureka, Warehouse 13, Sanctuary, Stargate, original sci-fi movies every Saturday night - you're watching these, right? There's plenty of sci-fi on Syfy.
Three quick issues related to biting this particular hand.
1) Top rated show for H2 09? Warehouse 13. For the first half? Ghost Hunters. You might not like it, but the audience does. Place the blame where you may. Syfy can't hear you because the money is talking to them.
2) Sci-fi/Syfy/Psi Fye/etc has never been the only, or even entirely the best source for science fiction tv. I'll point to Fringe and The Seeker for now, but there are other examples.
Here's a favorite: MST3K originated on Comedy Central, and aired there for 7 of the show's 10 years. There's a certain extent to which you guys are longing for a very, very selectively-viewed past...if indeed it ever existed.
2a) The reason it went away wasn't ratings. It was that the cost of licensing was too high, and that the show was ultimately a victim of its own success. There weren't THAT many bad movies to mock, and as they started to spread the net wider, the studios wouldn't play along. And why should they? The show had a shelf life, which it passed.
3) A little rant about viagra. I don't know much about the drug, but I know demographics. The world has shifted under your feet, and you have missed why Syfy may be the highest-impact target buy that Pfizer makes.
First, Viagra's fastest growing demo is in their 40s, and the number has been trending down for years. (Down? Ha ha. Okay, enough giggling. This is real money.) Viagra gained traction among the kids in the rave days, when it was commonly mixed with ecstacy. Some of this was to counteract one of the side effects of e, but some of it is that sex-on-demand on e is so intense that people can die from it. The kids think this is a good thing. And some of THAT is related to all dilation, all the time.
This is around the time that Viagra started sponsoring Major League Baseball and Cialis tied to the NFL. Any thoughts on the dates? Corresponded with the widespread use of steroids, whose side effects include a condition treated with those drugs.
The NFL ended the relationship with Cialis when they found that -- all giggling about performance enhancing aside - it made for such a demonstrably positive effect on on-field performance that the NFL has banned it. Dilation is GOOD, people. So good that it created unfair advantages.
A more widespread cause of erectile dysfunction is stress, which is insanely on the rise of course, and it comes from every direction. Not making any political observations, but McCain supporters' testorone plummeted after the election, and the result was
among young men.
How does Syfy fit in? It's the
station among 18-54 year olds. Note that the key demo is trending upward - it was 49 just a few years ago. Combine that with the fact that folks at the upper range have more money to spend on pharm, and go to the doctor more often, and that ED drugs are targeted at ALL men, not just older ones, and you have in Syfy the best match outside of the sports networks. Better than the news channels. Why would they NOT be advertising there?
Guys, money talks. Pfizer has billions to spend, but will only spend them where they find ROI.
Pay attention: Syfy, Pie Guy, Sigh Fye, whatever = Viagra/Cialis/Levitra's target demo.
A separate rant on people missing the point on MTV.
Without the ability to aggregate viewers, they were losing them, and with them, advertisers. The first attempts to create SHOWS were music-oriented - 120 Minutes, Yo! MTV Raps were the first biggest ones. They were ultimately victims of their own success, as alternative music and hip-hop became ubiquitous.
First truly transformative ratings: The Real World, which had a bigger social impact than Survivor did when it was the top-rated show in the land. It was a big deal for MTV because it provided them their first laser-focused, post hip-hop audience, and it was huge. Massive, massive money.
Their biggest ratings in the past 5 years? The MTV Movie Awards, up a staggering 74% from last year. That's MOVIE awards, and NOT music awards.
One of my favorite non-music shows on MTV: The Jon Stewart Show. (He also did the very funny You Wrote It, You Watch It.) The ratings were so high that Paramount (related to MTV through parent Viacom) created a syndicated version, and tweaked the format more toward a straight talk show that ran in the late-night strip opposite The Tonight Show, Nightline, etc.
re: the popularity of the Movie Awards on MTV, movies have everything to do with music marketing to youngsters, and have since Rock Around the Clock, if not earlier. Recent licensing to movies, TV and commercials has had a (again) transformative effect on the business - greater control of presentation, bigger bang for buck, EVERY placement is a prestige placement, multiple ways to use artists (remember when Aimee Mann played The Bronze on Buffy? She brushed past Spike and said "I hate playing vampire towns"), andlegal ways to collect direct pay-for-play -- except that they're not PAYING, they're GETTING paid. It's win-win.
That said, radio continues to play its role, especially in the teen market where radio has always had its biggest effect. Big, big BIG in urban areas in particular.
Guys? You're not teens anymore. Radio isn't for you.
Alan Freed first found Little Richard and Chuck Berry through live performances. He didn't do much with The Beatles until after Ed Sullivan did. (That said, The Beatles heard Freed playing Richard and Chuck on Radio Luxembourg.)
At the end of the day, movies and TV have had a bigger, longer-lasting effect on breaking music than radio - always. Right, Elvis?
Anyway, The Weather Channel has found itself in the same position as MTV, but worse. They originally tried to keep personalities off the air, because "weather" was the star. They were idiots. Weatherpeople have always been successful because of their personalities, even when they're not being clowns. While TWC eventually let presenters have identities (stay tuned for THIS PERSON), they still had a problem: nobody had any reason to watch for more than a minute or two except when they were being affected.
Same process as MTV: start with "shows" (local on the 8s), then go a little broader (Killer Twisters or whatever), then a little broader still. People WILL watch movies even when there's no threatening weather. I don't think that weather will ever go away from TWC, and I think that they'll drop movies like a stone when there's a big storm, but they need to draw a crowd.
This is the OPPOSITE of biting the hand. They've got their hand out.
Race to the bottom? Gray, bland programming? We're in television's greatest golden age. The crest of the crest might have been with The Sopranos, but seriously, the dreck we will always have with us. But the only reason I can imagine why somebody can be missing just how good so much TV is these days is that they're pining for a past that doesn't exist the way they remember it.
Kind of like the one where MST3K is a Sci-Fi show. :-)
I could go on like this for a long, long time, but I feel much better now.
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