At the TCA’s yesterday Syfy unveiled its scripted projects in addition to some of what’s in the works on the unscripted side.

Syfy has seven scripted projects in the works (they will not necessarily all wind up as series), and it prompted one commenter to ask where Syfy got the money to have so many projects.

While it’s fun to imagine a world where an all-powerful Sharktopus will pay all of Syfy’s bills, I’m not sure that will even cover Syfy’s vice president of giving away t-shirts on Twitter* (and yes, I know Craig is actually on the online side).   The answer to the question of how Syfy makes its money and funds a litany of projects is pretty simple.  Like most basic cable networks, Syfy has a dual revenue stream made up of funds received from cable, satellite and telco TV operators, and advertising.

*Just envy talking! Craig (and his USA counterpart @TedonTV) has one of the best jobs ever.

Subscriber fees

This isn’t updated, but at the end of 2009, Syfy was estimated to be in over 96 million homes in the U.S. and SNL Kagan estimated that on average Syfy received $.21 per month, per subscriber from the cable, satellite and telco TV operators.  That’s over $20 million a month or $240 million a year in revenue before they’ve sold a single ad.

Advertising revenue

Of course, like the rest of the basic cable networks, Syfy also sells advertising and though we don’t have any good estimates on how much it makes on advertising,  as a starting point it’s not unreasonable to guess Syfy generates as much money on advertising as subscriber revenue.   I”m not sure if that’s on the right block, or even in the right zip code, but it’s probably at least in the same state.   Those estimates get Syfy somewhere in the vicinity of half a billion dollars a year in annual revenue.

And though this blog generates a lot more chatter about all things Stargate, Caprica, Eureka and Warehouse 13 (and of course, Sharktopus) than say…Ghost Hunters, if I’m an advertiser I almost certainly want to get my advertising out in front of the people who believe in ghosts!

Plus, whether anyone likes it or not, Ghost Hunters is Syfy’s highest-rated show.  So, in some ways, in addition to your subscriber fees, the advertising sold for the shows on Syfy that you don’t watch is helping subsidize new shows you might want to watch.

Posted by:TV By The Numbers

blog comments powered by Disqus