Julian Clover on the performance of channels in the sci-fi and horror genres.
Two major shows in the sci-fi genre have debuted on Sci Fi in recent weeks. The first is the revival of Knight Rider, described as a high-octane, feature length pilot, but known to those of a certain age as the series with David Hasselhoff and the talking car.
The Hoff, who like the former Sci Fi Channel, has undergone something of a rebranding, appeared in the first episode that drew in half a million viewers. The Tuesday night show made Sci Fi the number one non-terrestrial in its slot, the 1.69 share giving the NBC Universal channel its highest rating since the first run of Heroes in 2007.
That first season of Heroes was a premiere for Sci Fi, but the subsequent two series got their first run on the BBC, which like Sci Fi is able to take advantage of an HD channel.
Tuesday is also the night for Sci Fi’s second coup, the UK Premiere of Dollhouse, which interestingly runs in the United States on Fox, so no pick-up by either Sky One or FX. The fantasy drama from Buffy and Angel creator Joss Whedon combined with Knight Rider for a 700,000 audience. A 0.93 TVR for Knight Rider and 0.72 for Dollhouse delivered an uplift of 331% on Sci-Fi’s TVR – one TVR represents approximately 1% of the UK TV audience as measured by researcher Barb.
Sci Fi is the leader of the pack with a 0.2% share, double that of the other channels in the genre, Sky Movies SciFi-Horror and Zone Horror, though all three and their timeshifted versions deliver more than respectable audiences.
Zone Horror, which began life as The Horror Channel, is arguably less commercial than either Sci Fi or Sky’s genre specific movie channel, tapping into the fan base with themed evenings. The current schedule anchor is Witchblade, two seasons of which were made by TNT in the United States in 2001, and which achieves an audience of between around 20,000 and 40,000 viewers. Around this are movies including Return of the Living Dead (36,000) and Zombies, Zombies, Zombies (29,000), in case the viewer is in any doubt as to the subject matter. Increased attention to compliance has allowed Zone Horror to maintain a full 24-hour schedule without the attention of the regulator.
The Top 10 for Sky Movies SciFi/Horror in the week ending May 10 is clearly at the more commercial end of the spectrum, the 2007 Transformers pulling in 84,000 for a Saturday night showing, 62,000 the previous Tuesday and 48,000 on the Thursday. Other hits include Alien 3, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and Galaxy Quest, itself almost a ‘historical document’ ten years after its cinematic release.