Have you ever seen one of those sci-fi movies in which a time traveler from the future is propelled back in time in order to save the world from a cataclysmic event that is about to occur? In other words, altering the course of an historical event so that it never occurs in the first place. It’s all a little mind-boggling.
Such is the premise of the TV series, “12 Monkeys,” Syfy’s re-make of the 1995 film of the same name that starred Bruce Willis as the time traveler James Cole. In the current television version, Cole is played by the American actor, Aaron Stanford, who is best known for his superhero films, “X-2 and “X Men.” James Cole is sent back from the future (the 2040s) to stop the spread of a deadly virus that wiped out over 90% of the world’s population and, in order to do so, he must battle the army of 12 monkeys (not of the simian variety) who originally released the deadly pandemic strain.
But there is a major hiccup along the way. You see, the scientists of the future have not built the highest quality time-machine, which keeps sending James Cole back into the past at exactly the wrong moment in time. For example, he begins his save-the-world quest by searching for a Dr. Cassandra Railly (played by the American actress, Amanda Schull) – a virologist who may know something about the killer virus. But he arrives two years before the cataclysmic event and confronts Dr. Railly long before she knows anything about the impending disaster.
Unfortunately, there was also a hiccup in the “12 Monkey’s” Live U.S. household ratings in Year Two. Not only were they down significantly from Year One, they also fell short of Syfy’s average audience in the 9pm time slot (in which “12 Monkeys” airs.) Undoubtedly, the show is swimming against a tide of young viewers who are migrating to digital video content, but the good news is that the show’s DVR viewing levels are quite high – a sure sign of viewer interest and engagement:
In terms of household demographic characteristics, we find both the income and education indices to be rather flat with 10 out of 12 Income breaks and all 4 education breaks exhibiting ratings indices plus-or-minus 10%. The one demographic that stands out are African-American homes which accrued a 117 Index.
And in compiling the Top 25 DMA list of the highest viewing markets to “12 Monkeys,” we were expecting to find the majority of markets with an above average concentration of African-American households. But our findings are equivocal on that score. Several of the markets (such as Norfolk, Richmond and the District of Columbia) have large concentrations, whereas just as many have low (such as Syracuse, Omaha, and Portland, Maine.) Perhaps what does make the Top 25 DMA so distinctive is that – unlike many of the other cable series we have reviewed in this space – the highest rated TV markets are geographically dispersed, from the very northeast of the country (Bangor, Maine), to the far southwest (Tucson, Arizona), with several markets in between:
Local Cable Advertising
Over the first two seasons of “12 Monkeys,” the show attracted 50+ advertisers who ordered 400 spots across 25 Viamedia markets (one-third of Viamedia’s national footprint.) That comes to an average of 7.3 spots per advertiser. And in terms of advertising categories, Automotive is far and away the largest capturing a +60% share of all investments – a figure that is double what we normally see for this category company-wide (across all advertisers.) Over-represented as well are the Entertainment & Travel (11% share) and Tune-in (10% share) categories which normally accrue shares in the mid-to-low single digits:
On to Season Three
Several critics of the “12 Monkeys” use as their point of reference the original movie, which received numerous accolades and awards. But taken on its own terms, Syfy’s adaptation of the original film is quite entertaining with a cast of compelling characters – both good and (very) evil– who keep the show going at a fairly quick, if somewhat confusing, pace. Ultimately, the harshest critic is the show’s collective audience which declined significantly in Year Two. There are at least two major obstacles standing in the way as “12 Monkeys” begins its third season on May 19th, 2017. The first is that the channel spectrum is filled with several dystopian cable series, some of which are more compelling than “12 Monkeys,” such as AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and TNT’s “The Last Ship.” The second obstacle is that the Syfy Network is swimming against a tide of viewers that are slowly (but surely) migrating to all things digital. That said, “12 Monkeys” still represents an interesting adaptation of the original movie, and there is still strong interest in the show given all the DVR activity as viewers record all the crazy twist and turns that take hold of the time-traveler, James Cole, who is utilizing a cranky machine that really knows how to mess up time!
Written by Jonathan Sims
VP of Media Research, Viamedia