This comes to you courtesy of The Retromedia Forum (see sidebar where I urge all of you to register and join in the fun) and the experience of writer-director Steve Latshaw (LIGHTSPEED, PLANET RAPTOR: RAPTOR ISLAND 2, AMERICAN BLACK BEAUTY ) :
"Actually, based on a conversation I had with their director of development in 2005...
1. They prefer a seven act structure.
2. First act runs around 17 minutes... opens with a 3 minute (3 page) teaser right off the top that features the monster attacking.
3. Remaining six acts run 8-15 minutes. Each act (including the first act) must end with a cliffhanger. They monitor ratings - literally - every minute; any fall off is noted as audience disinterest.
4. Concept must be simple for the monster, story, etc. Don't bog down with excessively confusing plot.
5. Pacing / tone must be immediate and fast. Hit the ground running. They liked the immediacy of series like 24, where everything is happening NOW. High tension, characters in immediate trouble that gets worse. This is very important.
6. No expanded or lengthy "coda" scenes. Kill the monster, heroes left alive, boom, into closing credits. Fast ending.
They used, as a perfect example for tone, an excellent Brit flick called DOG SOLDIERS. They loved that movie."
--- STEVE LATSHAW
Just like there are different script structures between theatrical and television, there are different script structures for different networks, just as there will be different script structures for the web. They are all by design.
Edit to add: My buddy, Jeff O'Brien ( INSECTICIDAL) just sent me this:
"A pal who pitched to Cinetel a few months back says they were looking for eight acts, the eighth act being a brief coda - and also that the immediate threat should be taken care of and killed, but foreshadow a greater threat still out there - sequelitis."
FYI - Cinetel is one of the companies that regularly produces these movies for SciFi. Their needs may differ slightly from those of the network - but not by much. Your mileage may vary.