Maybe "real" sci fi is
profitable. But cheap reality crap posing as sci fi is even more profitable - same ratings, lower cost.
But I'm not impressed that Syfy is still fitfully attempting to make sci fi, when both AMC and TNT have had big hits with sci fi series (The Walking Dead
and Falling Skies
respectively). That shows that sci fi doesn't need to be a charity case.
Syfy has just hit on a cheaper, easier way to make a buck. But it could blow up in their face. They're degrading their brand, becoming a joke channel, while AMC continues to foster a quality brand image and TNT isn't doing too bad either. Doing things the cheap way isn't always the smartest strategy, especially when you take the long-term view.
At this point, I'm actually more sanguine about some worthwhile sci fi (of the Earth-based variety) appearing on network TV vs Syfy. NBC is desperate to redefine itself and try to survive. Desperation might make them do interesting things. ABC seems pretty locked into fantasy vs sci fi but I can see a time when FOX will have to return to the sci fi fold, after having been badly burned this season.