Identifying platforms for growth
The Syfy Channel, a niche cable TV channel broadly distributed in 88 million U.S. homes, was seeking to dramatically expand its frame of reference by becoming a “category killer” that enjoys the economic and synergy advantages of profitable, high-growth revenue streams from multiple sources in diverse businesses. While growth opportunities existed from increasing appeal of the science-fiction genre, challenges came from limiting associations of the “science-fiction” name and the unpredictable nature of the media industry which was undergoing massive change.
The challenge was addressed through an innovation process guided by an expanded definition of the brand, clarity of a younger, more upscale target consumer, and an approach that combined creative and analytical problem solving techniques with market/opportunity sizing. Through development and consumer research, we uncovered that the brand was more extendible than originally believed, specifically in the forms of digital entertainment and immersive experiences versus hard consumer products. This insight, in addition to identifying high-growth industries, illuminated the highest potential opportunities from which to explore and develop further.
After rigorous development and analyses of several innovative ideas and attractive industries, the growth platforms of gaming, mobile, and home were identified as the most promising for the business and brand. Specifically, it was recommended that Syfy redefine itself as a new type of entertainment company with operations in gaming and new media, and over time integrating those capabilities throughout the organization.
Syfy executive leadership incorporated the team's recommendations along with key financial metrics into their 2007 plan and began exploring licensing opportunities and acquisition targets in the identified growth areas: Syfy digital gaming; a mobile storefront which includes ringtones and wallpapers; Syfy Digisodes; and creation of “Syfy Anime” for a new children’s programming block.
As a result, Syfy finished 2007 as the fourth-highest-rated cable network among viewers 25-54 and increased ad revenue to $276.98 million, up from $268.5 million in 2006. Syfy continues to flourish with growing viewership and increased ad revenues. 2009 was Syfy.com’s best year in its history, with 3.6 million unique visitors and 5.3 million video streams. Syfy is also continuing to innovate through first-in-kind formats. In January 2010, Syfy announced a cross-medium venture tentatively known as "One Earth" that will involve an ongoing TV show and a complementary multiplayer online role-playing game.