Food Network Analysis

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Food Network has a robust inventory of recognizable titles that it effectively rotates through the schedule.  The network doesn’t strip across the week, but has created stacks for most nights. Mondays and Fridays are driven by Guy Fieri’s DINERS, DRIVE-INS AND DIVES, Tuesday is competition programs for women -- CHOPPED and/or CUPCAKE WARS, Wednesday is balanced male/female reality RESTAURANT IMPOSSIBLE, Thursdays feature CHOPPED again, and on Sundays high production value studio based cooking competitions reign. Saturdays are filled with a different program each week.


Live Primetime Ratings Comparison: March 2012 vs.March 2011  (% Change)




Monday 8-11pm




Tuesday 8-11pm




Wednesday 8-11pm




Thursday 8-11pm




Friday 8-11pm




Saturday 8-11pm




Sunday 8-11pm




MTWTFSS 8-11pm




Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

MARCH 2012: Food Network is having a good year, and March is no exception. A solid roster of shows is on the air, and more promising programs are on their way. Ratings are slightly up vs. both last month and last year. There were some missteps and off nights, but there was more positive than negative, resulting in across the board bottom-line five to ten percent gains vs. last month and two to four percent gains vs. last year.

Monday nights draw the lowest audiences of the week. HEAT SEEKERS is mostly but not entirely to blame, as it starts off the night with sub-par numbers that are at the bottom of the ratings rankers. DINERS DRIVE-INS & DIVES fills the rest of the night, plus every Friday night and one Saturday. The plentiful airtime is taking its toll, and the program has dropped 16% of its adult 25-54 ratings vs. last year.

Better news comes on Tuesdays when CUPCAKE WARS encores lead into back to back episodes of CHOPPED. Tuesdays are one of the stronger nights for Food, with the second-best ratings for adults and women (behind Sundays). The night took on more men than women vs. last year (+33% vs. +14%), but it still holds the strongest female skew relative to the rest of the line-up. Like DINERS, CHOPPED gets a lot of airtime – 20 hours this month – but unlike DINERS, its numbers are still holding.

Wednesdays feature RESTAURANT IMPOSSIBLE with host Robert Irvine bringing a strong male following to the night. While ratings for the night are up an impressive 33% for adults 25-54, ratings for RESTAURANT IMPOSSIBLE are actually down 11% vs. last year when the program ran just one time a week. Which is an object lesson in what happens when you replace low-rated programs (THROWDOWN) with encores of a high-rated program. The program did get some relief at the end of the month when RESTAURANT STAKEOUT replaced it at 10PM. Despite accusations of fakery, the new reality program had a strong showing in its first three outings, and pulled the second best average program ratings on the line-up (behind WORST COOKS IN AMERICA).

Thursdays feature more encores of CHOPPED at 8 and 9, while reality shows are trying their hand at the 10PM slot. FAT CHEF just ended its first season at the bottom of the ratings pool. The program captured the attention of food writers, but not audiences, and never got momentum. SWEET GENIUS returned at the end of the month with much better numbers, actually topping CHOPPED in its second week.
Saturdays have been scheduled as a rotating mix of three-hour program blocks. Ratings are never exceptional for the night. Programs all deliver lower numbers on Saturdays than they do on their regularly scheduled nights, with the notable exception of DINERS, DRIVE-INS AND DIVES. For the second month in a row it has topped all the other program blocks, including CUPCAKE WARS and CHOPPED, plus its Monday and Friday average performances.

Sundays are the marquee night on Food Network, supported by a healthy bench of competition programming that is effectively rotated throughout the year. WORST COOKS IN AMERICA was at bat this month with the best ratings on the line-up, helping give Sunday night the best ratings of the week. However, Sunday night took a dive vs. last year when CHOPPED was the featured program.