While Syfy Takes A Beating with Viewers, It Seems Dave Howe is Doing His Job

by on April 28, 2011

in Entertainment

Syfy ChannelDisclaimer: This is a neutral observation, motivated first by frustrations as a viewer, but tempered with the business minded eye of the writer.

Albeit, everywhere I look, the Syfy channel is taking a beating in the social network circles. It ranges from polite observations to the more visceral reactions. But through it all, the shift we’re seeing at Syfy is signifying that when NBC/Syfy hired Dave Howe way back in 2001, they knew what they were doing, and it seems he’s doing his job, as expected and promised.

With the cancellation of Stargate Universe and the moving of Sanctuary to the doomed slot of Monday nights, Syfy channel can’t seem to make a move on a social network without taking a beating about it.

Over on Facebook, Syfy cranked out a note trying to pump up the theme of sci-fi Mondays. It looks to be a tactical move to support SGU and the newly appointed Monday night show, Sanctuary. That didn’t go too well. The Syfy account took a trashing with 208 fun “wonderful” comments. Still, there were 384 folks who ‘liked’ the reminder.

In another post, to remind folks about Stargate Universe‘s upcoming episode, they pretty much took 214 trasher comments about bringing the show back or not cancelling it. Meanwhile 456 folks ‘liked’ the reminder.

Sanctuary on the Syfy ChannelIn another Facebook announcement, this one for Sanctuary, they took 120 jab comments and I don’t think a single one was positive. True, 297 people ‘liked’ the post but everyone else trashed on them for the move. (For the record, I was pretty miffed to hear about Sanctuary being moved to Mondays.)

There’s no win for losing for those Syfy guys but fans are sending mixed signals where they trash on a comment, but more than twice as many fans like the same comment. And therein lies the problem. Conflict amongst the fans and a differing perspective between them and the Nielsen families.

Nielsen Ratings and Cash Influx

But, before we bury Syfy as if they’re the enemy, I want to remind everyone that television is a business. A business purely operated via the influx of cash. Cash they get from advertisers so they can stay on the air.

Not to be rude, but face it, if the consumer does not send the network money for your show, someone else does and the network will air that show instead. This means that some of the viewers are just along for the ride. And every now and then we get lucky and find a show we love.

The bottom line from the network angle is they must provide sufficient programming to pull in ad dollars. Ad dollars means production funds. It’s no different than you adapting to a situation to make sure you put food on your table and buy nicer things along the way.

The system in which we enjoy our favorite television shows depends on advertisers spending their money supporting the shows. That’s how we get to see them on our tele-boxes & internet streams.

I’m not saying I’m fond of the process, but it is, what it is.

A television show exists because the TV ratings tell the advertisers that a show is popular enough for them to spend their money on. Nielsen ratings tell advertisers that a show is popular.

Nielsen families, though supposedly demographically even in their mindsets, don’t seem to gravitate towards that many sci-fi genre TV series. As ratings attest to, they love those mindless reality shows above all else and the occasional serious dramatic story laced with light-hearted humor that laughs at itself, like NCIS. (You know, like Stargate used to be before MGM and Syfy mutated it into SGU-Galactica.)

Dave HoweWhen Dave Howe was hired by Syfy to change up their business structure in 2002, they were treading water but apparently having a go at it. Then they had their best year ever in 2007 and again, outdid themselves in 2009. They definitely hired the right man for the job to bring their network up in the all-around ratings.

They brought Dave Howe on board, who had pumped up the BBC into the huge entity it is today and he was the man they wanted behind their brand to help them grow. His approach to help the network stay competitive in this new age of entertainment, is, as he put it,

“We need to position our brand to compete more effectively in a fiercely competitive, multi-platform, multi-media and global world.”

He is also the man that helped clear the path to bring Tin Man, BSG and Eureka to the air of the network.

Like I said, I hate what is happening to some of our favorite shows as much as the next viewer. I’m so frustrated that I actually did not watch the Syfy channel last Saturday night for the first time in over 10 years because I’ve hit my own personal threshold with my disappointment from shows getting cut and moved.

But they have to do what they can to survive and they’re trying to do that in such a fashion that it’s a success for the network, not all the viewers. Here’s what I do understand from something they said some months back: Though they’ve branched out in so many different genre directions, it still makes it possible for them to bring some of those core science fiction type shows to the air and they can be buffered by the successes of other shows. Though when they said that, I actually believed that, but right now Stargate Universe is disproving that claim of hope. Then again, when they renamed the network, that might have been a good clue about what was in store for the viewers.

I think all I’m really trying to say is that despite the shows we might fall in love with on any network, it’s the Nielsen ratings that dictate the longevity of the shows we watch, not the network we watch them on. Sometimes we get lucky that the average Joe likes our shows and other times we aren’t that lucky. Syfy fans just happen to notice it more because for a bit, they had a chunk of shows that they liked that are slowly, quietly fading away and leaving us with wrestling, cooking, quirky ghost hunting and myth hunting shows that don’t really produce much entertainment for some folks.

Syfy Channel LogoI can’t blame the network, I have to blame the process itself. though I understand your ire, I hope you can take away a bit of light on the subject for now.

Syfy Facebook acct,

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Dude August 20, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Also, there’s that little issue of the cast of having to find out on twitter that their show was cancelled. Really classy, especially since it happened more than once.

Dude August 20, 2012 at 4:57 pm

How do you feel about it a year and a couple months later, now that there’s barely 2 hours a week of science fiction on the network. Remember when they cancelled SGU and Craig Engler said they had more scifi shows in the works? Where are they? All I see is more and more reality trash.

Shelby August 25, 2011 at 8:22 am

On the topic of upset comments vs. likes on the updates; there’s probably some overlap. The people commenting in anger may also be liking the post because they LIKE that Syfy is showing their shows and they are UPSET that Syfy is not continuing them. They may be LIKING the post to show support for the SHOW, not the network.

bob May 12, 2011 at 8:00 pm

When the show first started with a pilot that ranked the military as incompetent as a sci-fi movie on Saturday night does… the show was dead from the start.

People generally know that officers are not going to sneak off to the broom closet for sex… those types of actions are for the E1 to E4 ranks… and they almost always end up with Article 15’s.

The E5 plus crowd tend to have their own rooms in the air force and thus will be more likely to have privacy… but they too get caught when someone reviews the video tapes and sees a female entering unescorted by another female let alone the door closes.

While you may think this to be a small issue, it actually isn’t as small as you think, this simply is an example of many screw ups… such as is the case of the enlisted man that committed suicide in the first season… such people that are so heavily medicated wouldn’t be off world… in the air force they tend not to be even deploy able to Germany let alone the mid-east.

Then lets skip for times sake to the death of Ginn by Simeon’s… Simeon wouldn’t ever have hand the chance to escape… intel or not, he wouldn’t have been able to walk around the ship to get the layout of the ship.

At best he would be limited to a direct rout from his room to the over view area that allowed for the mandatory 1 hour exercise that prisoners get. His room would have been rigged to only open from the outside, let alone the fact that in the air force training we are trained never to turn our backs to the doors anyway… just in the event that the door is broken down by the prisoner.

this means that the guard would have been able to point, thumb the safety and kill Simeon before the door had opened completely and Simeon’s clearing the distance between the door and the guard.

This brings me to the weapons of choice, in this case, a pistol would have been the guards weapon as it is harder to get out of your hands in close quoter fights and you can free your other hand to get kidney shots or grab a knife… which I carried one in my boot when doing TCN (Third country national) watch.

And please do not get me started on the whole civilian vs military government crap… the answer to this would have been simple. The military would be in charge, the civilians would either work or be locked up and the ship fall apart around them all.

Until civilians are as trained and disciplined to following orders as soldiers are, this isn’t likely to change… further it would make more sense for the SG command to have trained scientist themselves from their best soldiers qualified for the work. They would have had nearly 14 years to start such programs.

These are only some of the wholes that you can fly destiny through without me doing a episode by episode break down of how poorly the writers took reality into account. I know it was a show, I know SG-SG1 had taken cuts and jabs… but nothing to this extent.

Oh and then there was a episode that they did quite litertly fly the Destiny through… the one where there were two rushs….

While the crew entering the gate and going backwards in time is established… the destiny itself wouldn’t have gone backwards…. it would have stayed int he star and died.

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