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Comcast's Syfy Is More Than Just 'Sharknado'

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Get your popcorn and DVRs ready, because Sharknado 2 is coming to the Syfy, a cable and satellite TV channel owned by Comcast (CMCSA - Get Report), on July 30. The sequel, titled <I>The Second One</I>, will have television viewers once again searching for Syfy, which was formerly known as Sci-Fi Channel.

Viewers may be tuning in to the channel more often, even after Sharknado 2, because the channel has more original shows and potentially successful set to premiere over the next two years.

Sharknado 2 reunites original stars Tara Reid and Ian Ziering, who reprise their roles in the original made-for-TV movie, which has become a cult favorite. The sequel also features Vivica A. Fox, Kelly Osbourne, Mark McGrath, Andy Dick, Perez Hilton, and Biz Markie.

The original movie didn't have huge viewership numbers, but it became a social media darling, scoring more than 5000 tweets per minute. The popularity of the show also led to midnight screenings around the country and many reairings on the Syfy Channel. The theatrical runs sold out in big cities such as New York City, Boston, and Seattle.

The theatrical showings were brought by Regal Cinemas (RGC) and Fathom Events , a unit of National CineMedia (NCMI). Sharknado also got the RiffTrax Live treatment, where it is publicly made fun of by the guys from Mystery Science Theater 3000. The event was broadcast live in 650 theaters by Fathom Events.

But Syfy has a lot more up its sleeve than just the Sharknado sequel.

For starters, the channel is planning a big Thursday night lineup beginning June 19th that will include the second season of Defiance and the premiere of Dominion.

Syfy is a little late to the zombie party, but this fall it plans to debut a 13-episode show called Z Nation, which has the same production team that worked on the Sharknado movies.

Other coming shows include 12 Monkeys, an adaptation of the 1995 movie starring Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt. The 12-episode first season is scheduled to kick off in January.

Warriors of Oz, an adaptation of the classic Wizard of Oz, is also in the works. The miniseries comes from Timur Bekmambetov, the director of Wanted and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

Another miniseries, based on DC Comics' Ronin comic book, is also in the works.

Frank Miller, who wrote and illustrated Ronin, was also responsible for Sin City and 300, two comic series that have fared well in big-screen adaptations.

Perhaps the most anticipated show is Clone, based on a graphic novel. It isn't necessarily the plot that has geeks freaking out, but the fact that Robert Kirkman, the writer of The Walking Dead comics, is producing the adaptation.

The network has other original shows including Continuum, Helix, Heroes of Cosplay and Warehouse 13.

Syfy's parent, NBCUniversal, also has announced the renewal of WWE Smackdown on Syfy. The hit World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) property airs on Friday nights and averages 2.75 million viewers.

With additional original shows and a nice lineup heading into 2015, Syfy could see higher advertising and broadcasting revenue. The channel isn't a huge subscriber winner, as it got only 21 cents per subscriber back in 2010. As of August 2013, the channel was available in 97.4 million homes, or 85% of U.S. households.

Syfy is one of several cable channels owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast. Other Comcast cable channels include CNBC, MSNBC, E!, USA Network, Bravo, NBC Sports, and The Weather Channel.

The NBCUniversal segment performed well for Comcast in the last fiscal year, considering it was up against big numbers from the previous year's Super Bowl and 2012 Summer Olympics in London. NBCUniversal saw revenue fall 0.7% to $23.7 billion. Cable Network revenue increased 5.4% to $9.2 billion. This small unit of NBCUniversal also made up $3.5 billion of the total $4.7 billion in operating cash flow for NBC Universal. This high gross-margin cable business continues to be a winner for Comcast.

At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.

Follow Chris on Twitter @chriskatje

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

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